Yoko Miwa Trio | Live at Scullers Jazz Club

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Live at Scullers Jazz Club

by Yoko Miwa Trio

Miwa's 5th CD displays her stylistic range and expertise in communicating directly in a variety of moods. With a nod to standards, samba, and the blues, the core of the disc includes 3 originals and 2 unlikely transformations of pop material.
Genre: Jazz: Piano Jazz
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Tracks

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1. This Could Be the Start of Something
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11:07 $0.99
2. Wheel of Life
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12:03 $0.99
3. Mr. B.G.
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11:23 $0.99
4. Seasons of Wither
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5:06 $0.99
5. Who Loves the Sun
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8:00 $0.99
6. Silent Promise
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9:36 $0.99
7. Mox Nix
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10:25 $0.99
8. A Festa
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9:12 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Jazz journalist and blogger Charles L. Latimer said Miwa's latest release is, "the best jazz trio album I've come across this year. Around the Boston jazz scene Miwa is a big deal, and after I listened to 'Wheel of Life' and 'Season of Wither,' I understood why. She a has a mean left hand and a restless right one. She plays a little bit of everything samba, blues, and hardcore bop."

Recorded in October 2010, during the trio’s second sold-out show at Scullers Jazz Club, the program confirms Miwa’s stylistic range and ability to communicate directly in a variety of moods. With a nod to standards, samba and the blues, the core of the program includes three original compositions and two unlikely transformations of pop material.

“Wheel of Life,” the first original, charts the ups and downs of existence with a deceptively simple circular form. “It’s about the life process,” Miwa explains, “from birth, struggle and the beautiful moments, then the bad and ultimately back to the beginning.” Long time partners Greg Loughman (acoustic bass) and Scott Goulding (drums) chart the shifts from calm to chaos with the same assurance that they employ when locking into the groove of “Mr. B.G.” This composition is a funky tribute to pianist Benny Green that also pays homage to Green’s former employer, bassist Ray Brown, as well as Green’s mentor and longtime Brown associate Oscar Peterson. Turning contemplative, “Silent Promise” relives a sad, rainy day experience and Miwa’s unspoken vow to see it through.

Miwa explains her choice of Steven Tyler’s “Seasons of Wither” and Lou Reed’s “Who Loves the Sun?” as part of her constant search for interesting material previously untapped by jazz artists. The Aerosmith classic, discovered by the pianist on YouTube, was originally conceived as an unaccompanied piano solo, but proved more effective with bass and drums added. Similarly, “Sun,” from Reed’s Velvet Underground days, gained emotional resonance when paired with “Wither” in an informal medley.

The program is completed by three diverse compositions. Steve Allen’s “This Could be the Start of Something” opens the disc with a dose of all-out swing. “I always ask myself, ‘What would Bill Evans have done with this tune?’” Miwa says about one of her idols, “and I was happy to find that Bill had recorded it with J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding.” Evans was also present on the first recording of Art Farmer’s blues “Mox Nix,” while another Miwa favorite, McCoy Tyner, helped Farmer and Benny Golson reprise the tune with their Jazztet. “It was a challenge to adapt this piece for trio,” she admits. “My goal was to capture the voicings Farmer and Golson got on the original recordings.” The closing “A Festa” [“The Party”] is a Milton Nascimento composition popularized by Brazilian vocalist Maria Rita, the daughter of Miwa favorite Elis Regina.

The trio’s sound is gloriously captured throughout, courtesy of engineers Christopher Corwin (live recording), Matt Hayes (mixing) and Toby Mountain (mastering), with Miwa’s commitment to spontaneity and serving her material in clear focus. “The originals were written for the show, because I always want to do something different,” she says, “and I want to stay open to new ideas. But the question I always ask is, ‘What’s best for this song?’”


Reviews


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Robert Carraher "The Dirty Lowdown"

masterful execution and conception
Lately I find myself wishing I had made the decision to attend The Berklee School of Music instead of studying computer science and engineering. Of course, if I had I’d not be writing this blog, but looking for a ten year old to show me how to turn on the computer. But lately I have had the good luck to discover some marvelous musicians, from many facets of music, that are Berklee grads and instructors.

The beauty, and indeed, attraction of this, Miwa’s fifth release, Yoko Miwa Trio- Live At Scullers Jazz Club, is in it’s masterful execution and conception. It’s mood firmly planted in traditional post bop jazz, while acknowledging it’s debt to the standards – the blues (Art Farmers minor blues signature tune, Mox Nix), samba (The Brazilian guitarist, Milton Nascimento’s A Festa) and jazz-pop (Steve Allen’s This Could Be The Start Of Something). But then…

Staying within that same atmosphere of acoustic piano/bass/drums with long time collaborators, Greg Loughman (bass) and Scott Goulding (drums), she covers some unusual ground. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith hard rock fame has his Season Of Wither transposed into an evocative jazz ballad that sounds, in Miwa’s hands, as if it was written for jazz trio. I could listen to her treatment of this tune for hours on end.

Another dip into the “popular” music world is Lou Reed’s Who Loves the Sun which gets an almost classical performance treatment. The tune is lyrical as the tempo moves around and the arrangement explores all the emotion of the words Lou Reed and Velvet Underground put into it the song so long ago. Her piano work is both impressive and daring and her interpretation, again, makes the song at home in the jazz world.

If this broad spectrum of the music world is not enough, Miwa includes three originals that seem to bring these disparate worlds together. Mr. B.G. is a tribute to the hard bop pianist and composer, Benny Green. And, as to be expected, the song is both playful, funky and exceptional. Wheel Of Life is a circular in form piece that is almost wily in its simplicity seeming to go from calm to chaos and back again. Much as the title suggests.Then comes the introspective Silent Promise, which reminds me of a rainy day in its melancholy. Make yourself a cup of tea and watch the rain fall, calm in your self assurance that you can keep that Silent Promise. Yoko Miwa is not just a masterful performer but a modern jazz composer to be reckoned with.

The three originals expertly tie the jazz tributes together with the daring and new treatments of the Tyler and Reed tunes and I’m not sure I’ve heard it done so well before. Bravo!