Released last month, this is the American recording debut of a 17 year-old pianist performing nine original compositions with his trio. Long a child prodigy, Takashi (Matsunaga) first played professionally two years ago with the noted Arrow Jazz Orchestra in Japan.
In a word, this young musician appears to have absorbed the entire vocabulary of mainstream jazz piano trios of the modern era. That is not meant as a demeaning remark. It is difficult to single out a single influence in that there is an amalgam of styles and moods. The liner notes make reference to similarities to both Chick Corea and Michel Petrucciani—and while I can understand the similarities, I also hear a dozen others.
The opening track, "Southern Cross," originally was written as Takashi's prelude to Corea's "Spain," I hear a lot of the style that Jacky Terrasson displayed upon his mid-'90s breakthrough on Blue Note. On the title tune, "Storm Zone," he literally personalizes the feeling of a typhoon at sea with dazzling chording, aided by the propulsive percussion of drummer Junji Hirose and Yasukagawa's lifeline on bass. As far as the elements battling a man-made surface vessel, you can literally hear it during this performance. Takashi also knows how to build a pretty ballad performance, as with "The Do-Ton-Bori River" and "The Doorway to Dreams," which almost seems like another pianist.
Track Listing: Southern Cross, Moko-Moko, New Morning, The Do-Ton-Bori River, Jungle Song, The World in Sorrow, Storm Zone,
The Doorway to Dreams, Blues for Whales
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.