Time After Time, Yuka Mito's second solo album, shines new light on oft-recorded songs from The Great American Songbook, adding three pop tunes and one original for a tasteful project from a Japanese vocalist with a love for jazz. Now based in New York, Mito divides her performance time between the Tokyo and New York jazz scenes. A gritty contralto and ever-so-slight accent makes her approach even more unique.
Latin jazz pianist Chiemi Nakai provides the arrangements for the title track, Duke Ellington's "Caravan" and "Sing Sing Sing-It Don't Mean A Thing" medley, while pianist Allen Farnhamwho performs herepens the arrangements to a host of other songs. The album begins with a sizzling rendition of Irving Berlin's classic "Cheek to Cheek" complementing Mito's aggressive voice with the band's sprite instrumental work, also featuring bassist Dean Johnson and drummer Tim Horner. Farnham's terrific version of Ned Washington's time-honored "On Green Dolphin Street" includes some unexpected but well-placed scatting, supported by an excellent piano solo.
Mito's soulful phrasing make potentially worn-out songs like "Bye Bye Blackbird," Ellington's "Satin Doll" and the immortal jazz standard "Body and Soul" sound fresh and new. Two more classic songs enjoying Mito's stylish and unique treatment are "Imagination," and "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To," while the singer transforms the melody to John Lennon's "Imagine," with improvisational twists from Farnham and Johnson.
Two other pop songs falling under the spell of Mito's charming approach: George Harrison's renowned "Something"; and Cyndi Lauper: Memphis Blues Tour's title track. Heavily influenced by the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O'Day and Carmen McRae, among others, Mito was first drawn to songs from The Great American Songbook on her as-yet unreleased Cole PorterLatin Grooves, from 2005, making Time After Time, in a way, her debut release. Yielding once more to the passion that stirs within, it is a pleasurable encore performance of familiar classics from an unfamiliar Japanese songbird determined to change her status.
Cheek to Cheek; On Green Dolphin Street; Bye Bye Blackbird; Imagine; Nada Sou Sou; Satin Doll; Time After Time; Imagination; Sing Sing Sing--It Don't Mean A Thing; Caravan; Body and Soul; I Feel Nothing; You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To; Something.
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