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02/16/13

Akiko Pavolka & House of Illusion
Mahoroba
Fresh Sound Records

If Mahoroba is a type of Japanese utopia, Akiko Pavolka and her sextet, House of Illusion, do everything they can to get there. An understated bliss pervades the album, her fifth as a leader, with the soft timbre of Loren Stillman’s alto saxophone complementing Pavolka’s plangent vocals. “Child of Summer” wends a path through the rich atmospherics the singer-pianist has honed for the past 15 years leading the group in New York, maintaining an illusion of tranquility with something beneath the surface. The tension cracks are what make the album, and they emerge on “Macaroni Western,” a propulsive odd-meter tune with a modulating melody line that never fully resolves. Guillermo Klein (on organ), guitarist Nate Radley, drummer Bill Campbell and bassist Matt Pavolka have a near-psychic rapport, which comes to quiet fruition on the lilting title track.

Originally published in January/February 2013
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