Japanese pianist RINA's eponymous debut is intelligent, graceful and passionate, and showcases the young artist's multiple talents. A protegee of renowned pianist Makoto Ozone, who also produced the release, Rina received a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music as well as other accolades, including third place in the 2018 edition of the international 7 Virtual Jazz Club's Contest. On Rina she also proves to be an exciting composer, as she penned all nine of its tracks.
The recording opens and closes with unaccompanied piano pieces. The luminous "Tale of Small Wishes" is multilayered and has a tense and mystical ambience. Within it, Rina's keys cascade with dynamic spontaneity and subtle romanticism. The tender, lullaby-like, nocturne "Hope" concludes the album. On it Rina builds a haunting mood which is simultaneously intimate and expansive and peppered with western classical influences.
In between these two contemplative musings there is plenty of creative energy that captivates and does not let go. Bassist Yasushi Nakamura opens the tango-esque "Foxglove" with his agile reverberating strings. The ensemble's whirlwind exchanges mimic an effervescent and sensual dance as Rina colorfully embellishes the melody and pushes it in a delightfully unpredictable direction. Drummer Jerome Jennings thrills with his polyrhythmic solo which bounces off his bandmates' sparse hypnotic vamps.
Even on the slower tempo ballads, the performance's momentum does not slack. For instance, the shimmering "Eternal Eyes" is cinematic and bittersweet. Nakamura adds a deep melancholy to the tune with his con-arco lines while Rina's phrases brim with wistful lyricism and reserved ardor. The trio demonstrates intriguing synergy as they mix chiming chords, cymbal splashes and resonant pizzicato notes for a haunting and memorable atmosphere.
Rina is an auspicious start to, what appears to be, a brilliant career. On this charming and vibrant work the pianist successfully balances her technical prowess with sensitive sophistication. Her virtuosity drives the music yet does not dominate it with unnecessary pyrotechnics. The disc both satisfies and whets the appetite of what is yet to come from this superbly gifted artist.
Tale Of Small Wishes; Shadows Of The Mind; Journey; With You Always; Foxglove; Eternal Eyes; J.J's Painting;
Run And Rise; Hope.
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