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Yoko Miwa Trio: Keep Talkin'

Dan McClenaghan By

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Pianist Yoko Miwa was born in Japan, but she has set up shop in Boston, where she teaches at Berklee College of Music. She has also—beginning in 2003 with Fadeless Flower (Polystar Records)—previously released seven CDs. The superb Keep Talkin' brings that number of recorded offerings from Miwa to eight.

The music of Keep Talkin' says that Miwa has fully embraced an American state of mind, beginning with the title tune, a Miwa original that sounds like something out of the hard-grooving Horace Silver songbook. Or add some horns and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers could come to mind. And apparent right out of the gate: Miwa and her trio play with joy. An especially spritely take on Thelonious Monk's "In Walked Bud" is up next, with a fierce momentum and an assured improvisational gusto from Miwa, aided and abetted by muscular and spicy rhythm from bassist Will Slater and drummer Scott Goulding.

The pianist is in fine form as a composer, offering up six of her own tunes, along with inspired covers of music from the previously mentioned Monk; from Charles Mingus ("Boogie Stop Shuffle"); Joni Mitchell ("Conversations"); and the Brazilian singer/composer guitarist Marcelo Camelo ("Casa Pre-Fabricada").

The album hits its highlight with the eight minute "Golden Slumbers/You Never Give Me Your Money" medley, from the Beatles songbook. The pairing of two of Paul McCartney's loveliest melodies works to perfection in this trio's hands, beginning with a stately and straight up reading on "Slumbers" that transitions into the dreamier "Money," leading into Miwa's searching and assertive improvisation, with the bass and drums cooking on high heat, pushing hard back into "Slumbers."

The set closes with Miwa's "Sunshine Follows The Rain," with Brad Barrett sitting in on bass, for a pensive and melancholy, yet hopeful and gorgeous close out to a marvelous piano trio outing.

Track Listing: Keep Talkin'; In Walked Bud; Secret Rendezvous; Sunset Lane; Boogie Stop Shuffle; Golden Slumbers/You Never Give Me Your Money; Tone Portrait; Casa Pre-Fabricada; Conversations; If You're Blue; Sunshine Follows the Rain.

Personnel: Yoko Miwa: piano; Will slater: acoustic bass; Scott Goulding: drums; Brad Barrett: acoustic bass (11).

Title: Keep Talkin' | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Ocean Blue Tear Music

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