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Yoko Miwa Trio: Fadeless Flower

Dan McClenaghan By

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Like so many jazz pianists, Yoko Miwa began her musical journey in classical music; and to jazz she brings the nuance, subtley and a forthright beauty engendered in her early studies. Miwa's right hand creates sparkling rivulets inside the rhythmic flow on songs like "In My Heart" and the disc's title tune, "Fadeless Flower," both compelling personal statements. The delicate lyricism of those tunes is balanced by the churning down-home groove on "Blues in the Cave," the gospel inflections of "Finding the Sun," and the pure impressionistic loveliness of "Love."

Miwa enjoys more than able accompaniment from bassist Greg Loughman and drummer Scott Goulding, who lay a vibrant rhythm down on a set of nine Miwa originals. The pianist has an engaging way of repeating a phrase, drawing the listener in before she lets the melodic flow go free again, telling stories full of concise and beautifully-rendered ideas.

"Black Bunny" hops along on a steady left hand groove and bouncing melody in front of a gently-propulsive rhythm anchoring a soaring solo, while the "Momentum" has Miwa floating on top of a relentless rhythmic texture.

The variety of styles Miwa commands, while maintaining a start-to-finish cohesion of sound on Fadeless Flower, is impressive. A gorgeous and unpretentious set of straight-ahead jazz.

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