How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Pianist Hiroe Sekine's graceful touch and pleasant musical disposition are apparent from the first downbeat on After The Rainfall, but they don't make this an underwhelming affair. The record certainly has its share of gentle aural pleasantries, but that isn't the end of the story. Fusion-laced revisions of Thelonious Monk
. He also oversaw the work on her debut, A-mé (Sekai Music, 2010), but moves away from its horn-heavy format here. Much of the music on After The Rainfall is notable for light as a feather yet lively and buoyant rhythm section work, making this both moving music, and music that moves. West Coast studio stalwarts all, drummer Peter Erskine
's soprano saxophone work. Sekine's wordless vocals serve as a soothing balm for the soul on the understated title track. A reharmonized "In My Life" pairs her easy-on-the-ears voice with that of singer Arnold McCuller, and also gives some solo space to Oles, while Chick Corea
's "Windows" puts Sheppard back in the spotlight. The center of the album features back-to-back Brazilian beauties that are notable for different reasons. Sheppard's flighty flute is in play on Toninho Horta
Sekine takes off the kid gloves for the three selections that close out the albumthe most energetic and entertaining tracks here. "So, But, Anyway," which opens with Johnson's electric bass solo and features keyboardist Sekine, uses modern, angular melodic architecture in its design. "Spoon Key" is a swinging, up-tempo blowing tune built around the blues, while Monk's "Evidence" is reborn as a fractured, fusion-tinged feast.
On After The Rainfall, Sekine finds balance between the breezy and the bold as she establishes herself as a talented composer, pianist, vocalist and arranger.
Track Listing: Song Of The Owl; After The Rainfall; In My Life; Windows; Aqui O; Inutil Paisagem; So, But, Anyway; Spoon Key; Evidence.
Personnel: Hiroe Sekine: piano, keyboard, vocals; Bob Sheppard: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute; Larry Koonse; guitar; Darek Oles: acoustic bass; Jimmy Johnson: electric bass; Peter Erskine: drums, shaker; Arnold McCuller: vocals.