Recent Listening In Brief
Preparing to leave for Sweden to report on the Ystad Jazz Festival, we call your attention to two of the dozens of piano trio recordings that have appeared fairly recently.
Yoko Miwa Trio, Keep Talkin’ (Ocean Blue Tear Music)
A professor at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, pianist Miwa has become a featured performer in Boston and New York clubs. Her playing and composing reflect influences in the post-bop and hard-bop milieus of the 1950s and later, but even when she plays pieces by Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus or–for that matter–by Lennon and McCartney, there is a firm lyricism in her approach. In part, that has to do with her sure but soft keyboard touch. Other factors include a predisposition to harmonies and rhythms that reflect Brazilian music. Often, that means a subtle adaptation, as in Marcelo Camelo’s “Casa Pre-Fabricada,” in which Scott Goulding’s brushes on cymbals hint at echoes of Brazil, even as Miwa’s rich harmonies steal the scene. Other highlights: Miwa’s take on Mingus’s “Boogie Stop Shuffle,” where she observes the feeling of the famous Mingus recording while managing to make the piece her own–no mean feat with Mingus looking over your shoulder. Her “If You’re Blue” is a nifty turn on, of all things, the harmonic changes of Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ On The Ritz.” Her own “Sunshine Follows The Rain” is an exquisite album closer featuring guest bassist Brad Barrett’s bowed bass and his sensitive pizzicato solo. Miwa’s primary rhythm section is bassist Will Slater and Scott Goulding, her husband, on drums.
Greg Reitan, West 60th (Sunnyside)
Fleet as ever in his keyboard forays, Reitan also achieves an aching sentimentality in the late vibraharpist Bobby Hutcherson’s “When You Are Near,” which features superb backing from his longtime sidemen, drummer Dean Korba and bassist Jack Daro. Reitan and his trio are also notably gentle in Herbie Hancock’s “Little One” and his adaptation of Aaron Copland’s “Four Piano Blues. Movement No. 3.” The eight Reitan compositions on the album range from the excitement of “Hindemith,” inspired by German composer Paul Hindemith’s sonatas, to “Epilogue,” the fast yet gentle waltz that closes the album. Throughout, Reitan has notable support from Korba and Daro. They are a trio tightly connected and conditioned by years of mutual achievement. In recent years, Reitan has written and arranged music for a variety of film and television projects, but this album is a reminder that he is prominent among contemporary jazz pianists.