Fadeless Flower (2003)
Yoko Miwa (piano), Greg Loughman (bass), Scott Goulding (drums).
Track Listing: (all original compositions by Yoko Miwa)
- Sorrowful Moon
- Fadeless Flower
- Blues in the Cave
- In My Heart
- Flood of Tears
- Black Bunny
- Finding the Sun
“Another outstanding Japanese female jazz piano star is with us, hard on the heels of the phenomenal Hiromi (reviewed twice here last month). This is already the second album as leader for Ms. Miwa, who began her studies with the father of famed jazz pianist Makoto Ozone, and has served as accompanist to vocalist Kevin Mahogany. In 2001 she was a featured performer at the Kennedy Center’s “Mary Lou William’s Women in Jazz Festival.” All nine tracks here are her originals and each has a song-like sense about them that seem to perfectly fit the album’s titled Fadeless Flower – which is also a waltz-tempo tune on the album. She observes, “I’m always trying to sing when I play a solo, I mean sing through my piano phrasing.” Her trio members support her effectively by avoiding overstating their parts – especially the tasteful drummer. Not all the tunes are so lyrical however; some are straight-ahead swingers with some active bluesy left-hand chording. Her clean and singing sound is beautifully transmitted by the high quality recording on this new-to-me Japanese label.”
“The pianist has an engaging way of repeating a phrase, drawing the listener in before she lets the melodic flow go free again, telling stories full of concise and beautifully-rendered ideas…. The variety of styles Miwa commands, while maintaining a start-to-finish cohesion of sound on Fadeless Flower, is impressive. A gorgeous and unpretentious set
of straight-ahead jazz.” Read More »
“Her second album as a leader is one of the warmest, most unapologetically lyrical jazz albums of the year… Miwa displays her facility with a variety of styles on this all-original program….what’s consistently impressive is her ability to deliver complex and challenging musical ideas in a compelling and yet frequently gentle and inviting way.” Read More »
Second CD by Boston-based Japanese Jazz Pianist Yoko Miwa.
Pianist Yoko Miwa brings a new grace and lyricism to the classic jazz piano trio on her latest release, Fadeless Flower. Miwa’s beguiling style combines a translucent tone, a nuanced touch, and heartfelt lyricism. The album, her second as a leader, features nine varied original tunes. “The songs on the CD don’t fit into any one concept,” she said in a recent Jazz Life interview, “but as a whole they are important to me because they are born from my life. To me the image of the song dictates what the solo should be, that’s why I’m always trying to sing when I play a solo, I mean sing through my piano phrasing.”
Indeed, each one of Miwa’s song-like compositions on Fadeless Flower creates a vivid image, from their titles to the trio’s improvisations. Her delicate touch and subtlety of expression enhance an air of beautiful melancholy on “Sorrowful Moon.” Grace, economy, and a keen sense of melody make her solo flow effortlessly from the first lyrical phrase to the striking chords at the climax. “Fadeless Flower,” a waltz taken at a comfortable tempo, features arresting left-hand figures that add rhythmic excitement. Driven along by Miwa’s four-to-the-bar left-hand chords, “Blues in the Cave” combines her artful way of constructing a solo with a down home feeling. This unpretentious sophistication is also a mark of her ballad playing on “Love” and “In My Heart.” Miwa and the trio are at home in a variety of settings, handling the beguine rhythms of “Flood of Tears,’ and the gospel inflections of “Finding the Sun” with the same graceful assurance as straight ahead swingers like “Momentum.”
Born in Kobe, Japan, Miwa studied classical piano from the age of 4. While in college, she began to study jazz with pianist Minoru Ozone, father of internationally renowned jazz pianist Makoto Ozone. She abandoned classical music in 1995 when she entered Koyo Conservatory of Music to study jazz theory and performance. In 1996, she received a scholarship to Koyo Conservatory’s sister jazz institution, the Berklee College of Music in Boston. After graduating in 1999, Miwa joined the Berklee faculty, serving as accompanist to vocalist Kevin Mahogany. She recorded with Kevin in his upcoming duets CD release. In 2001, she was honored as a featured performer in Washington D.C. at The Kennedy Center’s “Mary Lou William’s Women in Jazz Festival” A regular member of the Ryles Jazz Orchestra, whose guests have included Slide Hampton, Arturo Sandoval, and Jon Faddis, she appears on the band’s debut CD, Live at Ryles. Miwa’s debut CD as a leader, Yoko Miwa “In the Mist of Time” was released in 2001 on the Tokuma Label. In 2003, she lead her own trio on a tour to Japan appearing at major Tokyo Jazz clubs Body & Soul and Alfie. She has also worked with George Garzone and Jerry Bergonzi, John Lockwood, and Mike Turk.
Yoko has appeared on “Eric in the Evening” WGBH Jazz Radio Show with host Eric Jackson. Yoko’s CD “Fadeless Flower” has been featured on the National Public Radio Show “Jazz After Hours”. Yoko was featured in a live interview on the popular radio show “Voice of America” broadcast in over 250 countries worldwide.