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Taeko Kunishima: Space to Be...

Dan McClenaghan By

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Don't let the cover art fool you—it looks as though it would be right at home on the front of a drifty New Age set of sounds. But Space to Be... claims its spot in the mainstream jazz category, taking inspiration from a batch of influences: straight-ahead jazz, modern classical and Japanese folk songs.

Pianist Taeko Kunishima began piano studies at a young age in her native Japan, absorbing Mozart and Beethoven and later the modern piano music of Chopin, Debussy, Bartok and Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu.

Kunishima's jazz compositions lean toward lyricism and delicacy, catchy melodies and occasional driving grooves. Her band is comprised of piano, bass, guitar, drums and trombone, an unusual configuration that makes for an interesting sound, including contrasts between the dance-like delicacy of "Sakura" and the driving forward momentum of of "A Space to be Filled." Trombonist Paul Taylor turns the aggression factor up a notch, adding a brassy beef to the proceedings.

Five of the eight tunes are Kunishima-penned; three more are folks songs, Japanese or Okinawan, adding a touch of the exotic to the jazz sound.

Track Listing: Sakura Theme: Folk Song; Bela; A Tale of Love; Space to be Filled; Chingusa No Uta; Kokiriko Bushi; Itsuki No Komoriuta; Solitary.

Personnel: Taeko Kunishima: piano; Paul Taylor: trombone; James Fenn: guitar; Oroh Angiama: bass; Michael Simmonds: drums.

Title: Space to Be... | Year Released: 2006

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