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Misako Kano: Breakthrew

Jim Santella By

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Pianist Misako Kano grew up in Japan and studied at several universities before earning her Master’s degree in Jazz Piano Performance from Manhattan School of Music in 1990. She led this session in New York City in early 1996, and the quartet’s recording was released in Japan. Jazz Focus released the session in 1998 shortly after Thomas Chapin died at the age of forty, after a long bout with leukemia.

"Never Let Me Go" and Cole Porter’s "I Love You" are presented in lovely romantic ballad fashion. The former is a piano-saxophone duet, while the latter places the ensemble in a quirky start and stop scenario. It’s improvised jazz around a theme that never lets go of the melody; yet, each of the four artists expresses subtle passion and a liberal amount of freedom. Bassist Ron McClure wrote "The Yes I Never Heard," which he performs with piano. The two voices intertwine and produce a dramatic chapter. Kano’s composition "Breakthrew" is but one of seven of her works on this session. As a composer, Kano gives the quartet a framework of material upon which to improvise. As a pianist, she prefers lush harmonies and gentler forms of motion. "Breakthrew" is modern mainstream material with a lot of motion. Piano and flute soar and drift, creating a mood of pensive time spent dreaming of the future. Elsewhere, thematic moods are portrayed to allow the listener a share of ! the quartet’s passion. "Spring Is Here" announces pleasant surroundings and lively blues-based rhythms that bloom triumphantly, while "Freezing Drizzle" presents a bleary scene with the piano and alto sax wailing their messages to whoever will listen. "Waltz for Rachel" and "Bath Talk" both offer welcome relaxed jazz that is quite appropriate to their titles. The most dramatic piece of the session is "Timeless Craving," where Chapin moves from flute to saxophone; the introduction features several minutes of plucking and pounding on the piano’s strings. The quartet then moves through a garden of various designs. Recommended.

Track Listing: Mao; Freezing Drizzle; Never Let Me Go; Spring Is Here; Waltz for Rachel; Timeless Craving; Bath Talk; The Yes I Never Heard; Breakthrew; I Love You; Longing.

Personnel: Misako Kano- piano; Thomas Chapin- alto saxophone, flute on "Breakthrew," "Timeless Craving," and "Waltz for Rachel"; Ron McClure- acoustic bass; Jeff Williams- drums.

| Record Label: Jazz Focus Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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