Kayo Hiraki: I Wish You Love (2011)
Japanese pianist Kayo Hiraki is in search of her audience. She has self-released a smart set of standards in the trio format that is garnering attention from all quarters of the jazz writing world. A ballad specialist, to be sure, Hiraki resists the modern impulse to deconstruct, keeping the tunes intact and in congress with the composers' intentions.
To have been composed by a horn player, Lee Morgan's balladic "Ceora" translates well to the standard jazz piano trio format. Pianist Kayo Hiraki has a light-as-a-feather feel for the piece, presenting it in a straight-ahead fashion, eschewing Thelonious Monk and Horace Silver allusions in favor of her own dependable harmonic ear. Her approach is a light samba, kept mostly in Pat O'Leary's bass and Matthew Crawford's light Latin drumming. Hard bop never was so soft.
Personnel: Kayo Hiraki: piano, Pat O'Leary: bass; Matthew Crawford: drums.