CD Review: Yoko Miwa - Live at Sculler's Jazz Club

Yoko Miwa is a Kobe, Japan native, recently nominated for Best Jazz Act in the Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll 2011 who also studied at the Koyo Conservatory in Kobe and Berklee College of Music.

Live at Scullers Jazz Club is Miwa fifth release, recorded in October 2010. Accompanying Miwa, Greg Loughman on bass and Scott Goulding on drums.

For those unfamiliar with Yoko Miwa, like myself, this album is going to be a nice surprise. Even though she is a young pianist, Miwa plays with the confidence and fluidity of a seasoned jazz musician.

The trio swings hard on the Steve Allen composition, "This could be the start of something", closing with a energetic piano/drums call and response. The beautiful ballad "Wheel of Life" is one of Miwa two originals. The chord progression gives the listener a sense of circular motion. The other original, "Silent Promise" also a ballad, is one of the most intimate and sublime moments of the album and reminiscent of movie themes like Cinema Paradiso.

Miwa displays once again a good balance of harmonic lines and melodic runs on "Mr. B.G.", a tribute to pianist Benny Green. Miwa includes two odd selections, the ballads "Seasons of Wither" a song by Aereosmith Steven Tyler, discovered by Yoko Miwa on YouTube and "Who loves the sun" Lou Reed song from his days with Velvet Underground. The album speed up again with the swingin Art Farmer's blues "Mox Nix" and close with an excellent version of "A Festa", a Milton Nascimento composition recorded by Elis Regina's daughter Maria Rita.

Musicians: Yoko Miwa - piano, Greg Loughman - bass, Scott Goulding - drums

Tracks: This could be the start of something, Wheel of life, Mr. Big, Seasons of Wither, Who loves the sun, Silent Promise, Mox Nix, A Festa

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Wilbert Sostre