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Hiroko Kokubu: Moments

AAJ Staff By

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Living in the United Kingdom could have its pitfalls with regard to hearing fine music but thanks to two kind friends in the United States (Mary Jo Rathbun in Providence and Steve van Dyke in Wisconsin) I can hear that wonderful syndicated show entitled 'Sounds of Brazil'. Otherwise I would not have heard a track on the Scott Adams show called " My Heart's With You" by Hiroko Kokubu. To miss this treasure would be the musical equivalent of dying without having personally witnessed the magic of Rio's Sugar Loaf Mountain or Corcavado.

Hiroko is a Japanese piano virtuoso and her latest set Moments is a timeless collection of beautifully self-penned and arranged tracks, full of bossa nova promise with a just a touch of the mystery from the land of the rising Honda.

The set has so many memories in the mold of Eliane Elias meeting Eumir Deodato on his Love Island excursion from 1977. The Japanese fusion influence surprisingly is not highlighted within of Hiroko's sophisticated playing but moreso in the clean humbucking pickup sound of a Yamaha solid à la Miayoshi Takanaka or the excellent Issei Nori of Casiopea

The album also features contrasts with many Tania Maria funky grooves (though without the vocal scat) like "The Englishman in New York," which also features Hubert Laws soundalike in Yuichi Togashiki. Miss Kokubu sure can mix it with the best.

"Music To Melt To" comes amongst so many, courtesy of "Piazza in the Rain," the opener "Night in Capri" and "Lady Moonlight". But the excellent "My Heart's With You" is the true stunner, featuring all that is so magical about the sounds of Brazil. It comes with a full concert string section with a stunning flute solo by Masami Nakagawa.

"Passarada" features the wonderful vocal prowess of carioca Ivan Lins and the guitar playing of ex-Sergio Mendes' star Oscar Castro-Neves who incidently produces the album. The only two tracks not written by Hiroko are Sting's "Englishman in New York" and the strange and inappropriate "Alone Again" made popular all those years ago by Gilbert O'Sullivan.

If you are mesmerized by the beautiful music of Brazil, then this is one Moment you will want to capture for your own CD collection.


Title: Moments | Year Released: 1997 | Record Label: JVC


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