The arrival of Yoko Miwa’s Fadeless Flower brings a new jazz pianist to the table. Originally from Kobe, Japan, she studied piano with the father of Makoto Ozone, who burst onto the jazz scene in the 1980s when he took over the piano chair of the Gary Burton Quartet. Although Miwa originally studied classical piano, she shifted towards jazz studies first at the Koyo Conservatory of Music and then, on a scholarship, at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. She has worked with vocalist Kevin Mahogany and her debut album In The Mist of Time was issued in 2001 on Tokuma.
Fadeless Flower is a collection of nine tracks of different moods that display the talents of Yoko Miwa and her trio. The title song, taken in waltz time, generates intensity as the tune progresses, while “Blues in the Cave” is reminiscent of the soul jazz piano trios of the early 1960s. The opening track, “Sorrowful Moon,” begins with Greg Loughman’s bass intro and then reveals an attractive melody line that plays out in the fashion of modal jazz piano trios. There are two ballads, “In My Heart” and “Love,” both presented as reflective compositions. “Flood of Tears” is an opportunity for bassist Loughman to excel by stating the melody line and then providing a solo. ”Momentum” and “Black Bunny” are uptempo numbers that really give the group a chance to open up. Drummer Scott Goulding, who demonstrates clean articulation throughout the session, gets to trade fours effectively on the latter. Loughman and Goulding round out Miwa’s working trio and they are both experienced Boston-area musicians.
I’ve noticed that, as with 17-year-old pianist Takashi, whose Storm Zone debuted on Blue Note a few months ago, we are experiencing a new age of aspiring jazz pianists for whom there is no one role model. They seem to absorb the entire vocabulary of mainstream jazz piano and process that information for future use. In a way, this amalgam of styles allows the pianist to play the appropriate style for the right composition. It certainly isn’t impersonal and the results would make for an interesting blindfold test for the unsuspecting listener.
~ Michael P. Gladstone