5

Art Hirahara: Central Line

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
The central meaning behind pianist Art Hirahara's Central Line is simple to suss out. In literal terms Hirahara is referencing the Chuo-Sen (Central Line) subway line, a means for establishing his own relationship to the jazz world in Tokyo. But the message of the album runs deeper than that, tapping into the central lines that link person to place, past to present, culture to culture, and musician to musician. This is an exploration and manifestation of those lines that bind, and it's a fine one at that.

Nobody could've dreamed up a better crew for Hirahara to work with on this album—the top-shelf rhythm duo of bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Rudy Royston rounds out the core group, saxophonist Donny McCaslin drops in a few times as a guest—and the music benefits from the presence of such heavy company. But Central Line doesn't belong to the sidemen. Its intentions are still Hirahara's to have and control. Nobody would mistake this for anything but his work.

Hirahara could've used this as a showcase for running fast, free, and hard, tapping into the musical might of his bandmates, but he doesn't. Instead, he typically uses them to frame his pensive side in different ways. There are certainly moments of excitement—note the title track's rhythmic undertow, the swing unleashed on "Entanglement," and the joyous atmosphere and odd-metered groove of "Kin-Ka: Gold Coin" for confirmation. Those moments, however, don't define Central Line. Like much of Hirahara's output, this is more a thinking man's album than a call to arms. His meditative music—the Japanese traditional "Kuroda Bushi," Kan'ichi Shomofusa's Randy Newman-esque "Yuyake Koyake," his own originals, such as "Introspect," "The Giant Catfish," and "Tracing The Line"—acts as the guiding light here.

High times are all well and good, but simply nothing compares to hearing Hirahara contemplate through the keys. His musings bring you into his world, a place where contrasts and commonalities are both embraced and drawn out.

Track Listing: Central Line; Kuroda Bushi; Astray; Drawing With Light; Introspect; Little Giant; The Giant Catfish; Sensitive Animal; Tracing The Line; Entanglement; As Minhas Meninas; Redwood Thaw; Kin-Ka: Gold Coin; Yuyake Koyake.

Personnel: Art Hirahara: piano; Linda Oh: bassl Rudy Royston: drums; Donny McCaslin: piano.

Title: Central Line | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Read more articles
Central Line

Central Line

Posi-Tone Records
2017

buy
Libations & Meditations

Libations &...

Posi-Tone Records
2014

buy
Noble Path

Noble Path

Posi-Tone Records
2011

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Apr24Wed
Jocelyn Medina Quartet
Jazz at Kitano
New York, NY
$18

Related Articles

Read Trion Album Reviews
Trion
By Dan McClenaghan
April 22, 2019
Read LE10 18-05 Album Reviews
LE10 18-05
By Jakob Baekgaard
April 22, 2019
Read After the Rain: A Night for Coltrane Album Reviews
After the Rain: A Night for Coltrane
By Jakob Baekgaard
April 21, 2019
Read Cadillac Turns Album Reviews
Cadillac Turns
By Troy Dostert
April 21, 2019
Read A Pride Of Lions Album Reviews
A Pride Of Lions
By John Sharpe
April 21, 2019
Read Sunburst Finish Album Reviews
Sunburst Finish
By Glenn Astarita
April 21, 2019
Read This Should Be Fun Album Reviews
This Should Be Fun
By David A. Orthmann
April 20, 2019