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Akira Tana: Moon Over the World

Consummate pro Akira Tana demonstrates his nimble touch and reliably swinging grooves on Moon Over the World (Sons of Sound). Originally released in 1993 on the Japanese King/Paddlewheel label as the second recording by the Asian-American Jazz Trio-featuring the Hong Kong-born pianist Ted Lo and Atlanta-born bassist Rufus Reid-the concept here was to draw from Chinese and Japanese folk/pop melodies as a source of jazzy extrapolation. The trio does that with aplomb on the timeless Chinese folk tunes “Reflections of Love,” “Moon Over the World” and “Condor Man” (which became the theme to the popular ’70s TV show Kung Fu).

Tana’s signature tasteful brushwork underscores a swinging rendition of “Koi-no Vacance (Vacation of Love)” by the contemporary Japanese-pop composer Hiroshi Miyagawa, who also contributes the piece “Chinese Fingers,” rendered here as a Horace Silver-style groover. Tana plays the sensitive colorist behind Lo’s gentle piano work on Silver’s hauntingly beautiful ballad “Sweet Stuff,” and the drummer again displays his deftness with brushes on Reid’s gorgeous waltz-time ballad “No Place Like the End of the World” as well as on the poignant Jaco Pastorius composition “Three Views of a Secret” and the briskly swinging Gene Bertoncini number “Sofflee,” in which the drummer engages in some spirited exchanges with bassist and longtime rhythm partner Reid.

An underrated master, Tana shines on Moon Over the World.

Originally Published