414

Makiko Hirabayashi: Makiko

By

Sign in to view read count
Makiko Hirabayashi may be the ideal emblem of today's multicultural jazz musician, caught in a web of influences. Born in Tokyo and educated in Boston, Hirabayashi is now a major pianist in Denmark, where she resides. Her debut album signals this globalism, presenting her with two top-notch Danish players on her own compositions.

Makiko showcases a careful choice of tones and sounds, all of which add up to a common texture: cloudy, occasionally mystifying, and most frequently somber. "Camel Ride" bears a certain resemblance to the work of Brad Mehldau, in Hirabayashi's use of classical harmonies in a minor palette. The rhythmic elements, however, seem entirely original, and the eccentric play that the bass and drums are allowed, make it all the more intriguing.

However, at other times, the pianist's emphasis on a darker impressionism seems somehow unsatisfactory. "Clouds of Mt. Blanc" opens with rich, murky chords that are well complemented by Marilyn Mazur's percussion; but once the form opens up it lacks movement, stagnating on just a couple minor concepts for too long.

One of the peculiarities of Makiko is the album's arc. After a faltering beginning, the disc gets stronger the further one proceeds into it. The finest of the ten tracks are buried in the middle. As it seems, Hirabayashi has to wade through the less memorable of her compositions to reach the interest and excitement of "Camel Ride," "City Murmur," and "My Cherry Tree."

Hirabayashi's compositions can be evocative, with a strong atmospheric pull towards certain moods. However, the songs are hard to imagine in another's hands: they lack the melodic interest necessary to give them life beyond their composer. Most of Makiko is not memorable in the way of great jazz standards. These songs flutter briefly and draw a listener in, but without a lasting power.

The potential for a higher order of composition is here, though. "Waves" fully demonstrates Hirabayashi's abilities, combining moods with remarkable grace. The pianist's melodies vacillate between an articulated series of notes that draw from the reductionist scales of the Far East, and esoteric, almost sinister lines. Underneath these voices, Mazur provides a range of peculiar and unearthly percussive effects, building until the dreamlike vision of the song seems to lose itself, gradually, in its own strangeness.

A composition like this one moves far past the expected and well-trodden ground that Hirabayashi elsewhere employs. As she further develops her melodies in future recordings, she will have the potential to chart very profound new territory.

Track Listing: Clouds over Mt. Blanc; Asymmetric Rainbow; Waves; First Flight; Camel Ride; City Murmur; Midnight Bells; My Cherry Tree; Orchids; Epilogue.

Personnel: Makiko Hirabayashi: piano; Klavs Hovman: bass; Marilyn Mazur: drums, percussion.

Title: Makiko | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Enja Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Way of It CD/LP/Track Review The Way of It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Tag Book CD/LP/Track Review Tag Book
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Hide Ye Idols CD/LP/Track Review Hide Ye Idols
by Troy Collins
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Spavati, Mozda Sanjati CD/LP/Track Review Spavati, Mozda Sanjati
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read "Jazz Marathon 2" CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Marathon 2
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 20, 2017
Read "Collider" CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "Forever Young" CD/LP/Track Review Forever Young
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 1, 2017
Read "Reflections Of A Voice" CD/LP/Track Review Reflections Of A Voice
by Chris Mosey
Published: January 14, 2017
Read "The Brightest Minute" CD/LP/Track Review The Brightest Minute
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 25, 2017
Read "Hoping Against Hope" CD/LP/Track Review Hoping Against Hope
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 19, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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

Please support out sponsor