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Yoko Miwa Trio: Pathways

Jerome Wilson By

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Yoko Miwa is a pianist operating in the Boston area whose stylistic reach touches on funky gospel, bluesy bebop and dramatic pomp. She and her long time trio jump out nicely from the first track, the surging gospel rhythms of Marc Johnson's "Log O'Rhythm," drummer Scott Goulding providing a solid shuffle foundation to Miwa's pounding. They also have fun cascading up and down on another Johnson tune, "After All" later on the disc.

Miwa's original melodies on this disc are memorable and most of them really drive. "Lickety Split" is an energetic straight jazz burner in the Bud Powell fashion with a mambo backbeat. "The Goalkeeper" has a swing and style reminiscent of Mary Lou Williams and "Was It Something I Said?" has an old school swagger akin to the piano playing of Duke Ellington himself. All these pieces show Miwa's penchant for impish little blues filigrees and how well Goudling and bassist Will Slater support her with strutting panache. Miwa's one ballad composition, "Lantern Light," is interesting as well, flowing through several classically- inclined melodies with a swirling delicate force kept together by Golding's drumming.

Then there are covers of two vintage rock songs expanded into grandiose productions. Joni Mitchell's "Court And Spark," an offbeat choice, is played to a slightly slowed down tempo with Goudling keeping a tense beat going under Miwa's lush playing of the melody before the piece gives over to slippery, blues tinged improvising. On The Beatles' "Dear Prudence" the beat is slightly altered into a tricky hip hop figure that gives an extra boost to the drumming as Miwa navigates the insistent, familiar theme.

There's a mischievous joy in Yoko Miwa's piano playing that gives a little extra soul to everything she does. Her trio grooves mightily and she definitely sounds worth going to see live if you're ever in the Boston area .

Track Listing: Log O' Rhythm; Lickety Split; Court And Spark; The Goalkeeper; After You; Lantern Light; Was It Something I Said?;Dear Prudence.

Personnel: Yoko Miwa: piano; Will Slater: bass; Scott Goulding: drums Brad Barrett: bass (8).

Title: Pathways | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Ocean Blue Tear Music

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