2

Sumi Tonooka: Now

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Sumi Tonooka: Now Sumi Tonooka is a resourceful jazz pianist who, along with alto saxophonist Christopher Burnett and tenor saxophonist Erica Lindsay, started the Artists Recording Collective, offering up Initiation (2010), an excellent quartet outing which Tonooka co-led with Lindsay, and a more intimate Tonooka-led trio effort, Long Ago Today (2008). A former student of piano legend Mary Lou Williams and an alum of drummer Philly Joe Jones' band, the pianist knows how to work in an ensemble. But going it alone is the ultimate challenge, and Tonooka ups the ante on that risky bet by releasing the double-disc Now, documenting a complete live show.

The first disc showcases Tonooka's prowess as an interpreter, opening with the much-covered "I Hear a Rhapsody." Tonooka's version is bright, breezy, with a dancehall feel that slips into a quiet reverence on the segue into Duke Ellington's "Heaven," a tune—lovely and profound, with a shading of the ground-bound blues—for which solo piano seems a perfect vehicle. The familiar "I'm Old Fashioned" gets an unfamiliar reshaping as the pianist takes things up-tempo with a rollicking rhythm.

The set's thirteen minute highlight, "Mary Lou Williams Medley," blends saxophonist John Stubblefield's "Baby Man," often performed by the legendary pianist, with Williams' own "Waltz Boogie" and her earthy "Dirge Blues." If "I Hear a Rhapsody" is the dancehall—a sunrise of sorts—this is the barroom deep in the dark night. Then, another dawn, with pianist Thelonious Monk's "Evidence," full of hope and wonder, gives way to the elegance of Cole Porter's "All of You."

The second disc features five of Tonooka's original compositions, opening with the haunting "Phantom Carousel," lifting the night into a concert hall vibe with its brooding and ethereal sound. "Sojourn 1 and Uganda" melds two tune inspired by Tonooka's tour through Africa. The music switches from a sense of tumultuous mystery to bright, splashing beauty, with the pianist at her virtuosic peak.

"Mingus Mood," with its mournful melody, plaintive rhythm and restrained anguish, is reminiscent of its namesake, iconic bassist Charles Mingus' "Good Bye Pork Pie Hat," leading into the gorgeous, light stepping "At Home" before Tonooka encores with Eubie Blake's timeless and playful "I'm Confessin.'"

Tonooka covers a lot of stylistic territory on these two discs, in a perfectly sequenced show, and plays with a rare spirituality and musical sagacity. A superb solo piano outing.

Track Listing: CD1: I Hear a Rhapsody; Heaven; I'm Old Fashioned; Mary Lou Williams Medley; Evidence; All of You. CD2: Phantom Carousel; Sojourn 1 and Uganda; Moraccan Daze; At Home; I'm Confessin'.

Personnel: Sumi Tonooka: piano.

Title: Now | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: ARC - Artists Recording Collective


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Company I Keep CD/LP/Track Review The Company I Keep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ma De Re Sha CD/LP/Track Review Ma De Re Sha
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ask Seek Knock CD/LP/Track Review Ask Seek Knock
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Air and Light and Time and Space CD/LP/Track Review Air and Light and Time and Space
by John Eyles
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Eleven Cages CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Cages
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Afro-Caribbean Mixtape CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "Disappearing Day" CD/LP/Track Review Disappearing Day
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 21, 2016
Read "On A Monday Evening" CD/LP/Track Review On A Monday Evening
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "Ocean of Storms" CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Slight Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Slight Freedom
by Dave Wayne
Published: December 10, 2016
Read "Till They Lay Me Down" CD/LP/Track Review Till They Lay Me Down
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 5, 2016
Read "My Foolish Heart" CD/LP/Track Review My Foolish Heart
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 3, 2017

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.