How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Released last month, this is the American recording debut of a 17 year-old pianist performing nine original compositions with his trio. Long a child prodigy, Takashi (Matsunaga) first played professionally two years ago with the noted Arrow Jazz Orchestra in Japan.
In a word, this young musician appears to have absorbed the entire vocabulary of mainstream jazz piano trios of the modern era. That is not meant as a demeaning remark. It is difficult to single out a single influence in that there is an amalgam of styles and moods. The liner notes make reference to similarities to both Chick Corea and Michel Petrucciani—and while I can understand the similarities, I also hear a dozen others.
The opening track, "Southern Cross," originally was written as Takashi's prelude to Corea's "Spain," I hear a lot of the style that Jacky Terrasson displayed upon his mid-'90s breakthrough on Blue Note. On the title tune, "Storm Zone," he literally personalizes the feeling of a typhoon at sea with dazzling chording, aided by the propulsive percussion of drummer Junji Hirose and Yasukagawa's lifeline on bass. As far as the elements battling a man-made surface vessel, you can literally hear it during this performance. Takashi also knows how to build a pretty ballad performance, as with "The Do-Ton-Bori River" and "The Doorway to Dreams," which almost seems like another pianist.
Track Listing: Southern Cross, Moko-Moko, New Morning, The Do-Ton-Bori River, Jungle Song, The World in Sorrow, Storm Zone,
The Doorway to Dreams, Blues for Whales