Live at Scullers Jazz Club (2011)
Yoko Miwa (piano), Greg Loughman (bass), Scott Goulding (drums)
- This Could Be the Start of Something (Steve Allen)
- Wheel of Life (Yoko Miwa)
- Mr. B. G. (Yoko Miwa)
- Seasons of Wither (Aerosmith)
- Who Loves the Sun (Lou Reed, Velvet Underground)
- Silent Promise (Yoko Miwa)
- Mox Nix (Art Farmer)
- A Festa (Milton Nascimento)
“Exuding confidence – or more like pride without ego – Ms. Miwa brought her audience into the conversation about her life, her music and her passion for jazz. But when she sat down, fronting the Yoko Miwa Trio – she was all business, delivering a dexterity of command across the keyboard with ease and grace….Backed by bassist Will Slater and drummer Scott Goulding, it was clear that the chemistry of the three-some was going to offer a tight set of potent jazz this evening.” Read More »
Miwa’s original composition “Wheel Of Life” begins with a beautifully understated piano line before soon turning into a larger sound of cascading notes with her rhythm section joining in with their own lovely touches. Miwa has a way of keeping art, beauty, and emotion all perfectly contained in a peaceful expression of colors and tone. It is during these moments of understatement that the listener can truly feel what she was likely feeling when she was composing. Read More »
Miwa displays an impressive stylistic range. Opening with a rousing take of Steve Allen’s “This Could Be the Start of Something,” the pianist and her trio mix a bouncy elegance with a full-bore forward momentum. Miwa treats the melody with reverence, riding a inexorable rhythmic wave supplied by bassist Greg Loughman and drummer Scott Goulding. Virtuosic but unrelentingly accessible, the pianist stretches out, taking eleven minutes to explore this Great American Songbook gem with glorious grace. Read More »
Miwa’s 5th CD displays her stylistic range and expertise in communicating directly in a variety of moods. With a nod to standards, samba, and the blues, the core of the disc includes 3 originals and 2 unlikely transformations of pop material.
Jazz journalist and blogger Charles L. Latimer said Miwa’s latest release is, “the best jazz trio album I’ve come across this year. Around the Boston jazz scene Miwa is a big deal, and after I listened to ‘Wheel of Life’ and ‘Season of Wither,’ I understood why. She a has a mean left hand and a restless right one. She plays a little bit of everything samba, blues, and hardcore bop.”
Recorded in October 2010, during the trio’s second sold-out show at Scullers Jazz Club, the program confirms Miwa’s stylistic range and ability to communicate directly in a variety of moods. With a nod to standards, samba and the blues, the core of the program includes three original compositions and two unlikely transformations of pop material.
“Wheel of Life,” the first original, charts the ups and downs of existence with a deceptively simple circular form. “It’s about the life process,” Miwa explains, “from birth, struggle and the beautiful moments, then the bad and ultimately back to the beginning.” Long time partners Greg Loughman (acoustic bass) and Scott Goulding (drums) chart the shifts from calm to chaos with the same assurance that they employ when locking into the groove of “Mr. B.G.” This composition is a funky tribute to pianist Benny Green that also pays homage to Green’s former employer, bassist Ray Brown, as well as Green’s mentor and longtime Brown associate Oscar Peterson. Turning contemplative, “Silent Promise” relives a sad, rainy day experience and Miwa’s unspoken vow to see it through. Miwa explains her choice of Steven Tyler’s “Seasons of Wither” and Lou Reed’s “Who Loves the Sun?” as part of her constant search for interesting material previously untapped by jazz artists. The Aerosmith classic, discovered by the pianist on YouTube, was originally conceived as an unaccompanied piano solo, but proved more effective with bass and drums added. Similarly, “Sun,” from Reed’s Velvet Underground days, gained emotional resonance when paired with “Wither” in an informal medley. The program is completed by three diverse compositions. Steve Allen’s “This Could be the Start of Something” opens the disc with a dose of all-out swing. “I always ask myself, ‘What would Bill Evans have done with this tune?’” Miwa says about one of her idols, “and I was happy to find that Bill had recorded it with J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding.” Evans was also present on the first recording of Art Farmer’s blues “Mox Nix,” while another Miwa favorite, McCoy Tyner, helped Farmer and Benny Golson reprise the tune with their Jazztet. “It was a challenge to adapt this piece for trio,” she admits. “My goal was to capture the voicings Farmer and Golson got on the original recordings.” The closing “A Festa” [“The Party”] is a Milton Nascimento composition popularized by Brazilian vocalist Maria Rita, the daughter of Miwa favorite Elis Regina.
The trio’s sound is gloriously captured throughout, courtesy of engineers Christopher Corwin (live recording), Matt Hayes (mixing) and Toby Mountain (mastering), with Miwa’s commitment to spontaneity and serving her material in clear focus. “The originals were written for the show, because I always want to do something different,” she says, “and I want to stay open to new ideas. But the question I always ask is, ‘What’s best for this song?’”