Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
261

Sumi Tonooka: Long Ago Today

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
Sumi Tonooka: Long Ago Today Sumi Tonooka is a pianist from Philadelphia with some impressive credentials: she can recall playing with Philly Joe Jones and has counted upon the services of the redoubtable bassist Rufus Reid on each of her records. More important, she plays with a mature and entirely personal style that makes her a contender for the ranks of today's jazz piano elite.

Long Ago Today is a trio outing that derives a lot of its magnetic appeal from the mysteries of the music within. But there are some mysteries deeper still than those heard in the music here. Namely, why did this remarkably fresh record sit in the can for three and a half years after it was recorded before its March 2008 release? Or, how could someone who plays this well still be flying beneath the radar for so many listeners?

As for the musical mysteries, they are rooted in the record's paradoxical, almost dialectical, resolution of apparently incompatible elements. Tonooka's playing is crisp and precise but at the same time gives the impression of a raw, jagged quality. The songs are bright but somehow also brooding. On Cole Porter's "All of You" (the only number here not penned by Tonooka), the coordination of Rufus Reid's bass and the pianist's left hand is earthy, grounded and funky, but also has the feline grace of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Tonooka plays with the ferocious power of Bud Powell at the height of his powers, but also with the generous lyricism of Enrico Pieranunzi. Such a combination turns out to sound a little like Erroll Garner sometimes (there's a bit of that swishy counterpoint on "Dreaming of Tibet"), but mostly Tonooka's playing is entirely her own.

The leader's own compositions are particularly well suited to her style. The harmony in the faster-tempo numbers careens in unexpected directions. Paradoxically (again), this uncertain harmonic foundation provides the pianist with the bedrock for solos of remarkable intelligence and control, boldly played.

Fiery drummer Bob Braye matches Tonooka's kinetic sense of rhythm with great empathy, particularly on the charging "Quantum Question." Sadly, Braye died in 2007. He could scarcely have left a more fitting tribute than his playing on this record.


Track Listing: Be the Dance; All Of You; The Clinging; Dreaming of Tibet; Quantum Question; Long Ago Today; Renewal; Moroccan Daze; Just For Now; Nami's Song.

Personnel: Sumi Tonooka: piano; Rufus Reid: double bass; Bob Braye: drums.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: ARC - Artists Recording Collective | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
NOW: Solo Live at the Howland Cultural Center
NOW: Solo Live at the...
ARC - Artists Recording Collective
2012
buy
Now
Now
ARC - Artists Recording Collective
2012
buy
Initiation
Initiation
ARC - Artists Recording Collective
2010
buy
Long Ago Today
Long Ago Today
ARC - Artists Recording Collective
2009
buy
Long Ago Today
Long Ago Today
ARC - Artists Recording Collective
2008
buy

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus
Support our sponsor

Sponsor: Motéma Music | BUY IT  

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.