Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but the creator also has a hell of a lot to do with it when it comes to the arts. Every musical performance leaves certain items open for debate for and from those on the receiving end, but some things remain irrefutable because of those on the giving side. In the case of pianist Ayako Shirasaki, the undeniable truth(s) surround her dexterous handiwork on the 88s, melodic clarity, and arranging ingenuity, all of which were evident on her stunner of a solo piano disc Falling Leaves: Live In Hamburg
(Jan Matthies Music, 2010).
With Some Other Time
, Shirasaki returns to the piano trio format, an oh-so-familiar configuration that she used on her first two albums Existence
(What's New, 2003) and Musically Yours
(What's New, 2005). That initially comes off as a bit of a let down, given the spectacular heights she reached as a solo act on Falling Leaves: Live In Hamburg
, but it turns out to be a blessing; she may be an uber-talented solo pianist, but she also has a hell of a lot to offer in the trio realm and she makes that clear here for those that may have missed those early albums.
Shirasaki tackles reworked classics, originals and a couple of Japanese tunes on Some Other Time
, but all of the material is arranged and delivered in such a fashion that it appears to be cut from the same cloth, despite obvious stylistic differences. Two originalsthe album-opening, Brazilian inflected "Sunrise" and "3 Steps Forward," which hints at Bud Powell
with a dash of Thelonious Monk
and Jacky Terrasson
lead to "Yosuka," a Japanese country music song that has hard bop connections, and the title track, a gentle number that warms the soul. After those initial offerings, the surprises arrive with a brilliant reworking of "Oleo" and an "April In Paris" that's far far away from Count Basie
's lauded version.
The second half of the album has just as many thrills, with a solo piano take on "Sophisticated Lady," a hip version of a Japanese folk song"Antagata Dokosa"and a charming take on Swedish pianist Lars Jansson
's "Hope" topping the list. There's a lot to love here, from the easy three-way rapport between the woman in charge and her trio matesbassist Noriko Ueda
and drummer Quincy Davis
to the balance between the known and the unknown. Some Other Time
succeeds on all fronts and will, hopefully, bring more attention to the work of Ayako Shirasaki, an artist who puts it all out there when she plays.