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Fukumi: Let Me Introduce Myself

Fellow newcomer Fukumi is a bit of a mystery. I’ve never heard or heard of her before, know nothing about her and, unless she happens to also be a photon physicist working in Hiroshima, can find nothing about her on the Internet. All there is to go by is her debut album, recorded in New York in late 2001. After listening to the aptly titled Let Me Introduce Myself (Stella), the only appropriate response seems to be: It’s a pleasure to meet you. Working with a tight combo led by acclaimed pianist/vocalist Rick DellaRatta and writing many of her own arrangements, Fukumi takes a satisfying meander through a mixed bag of standards, focusing primarily on American classics of the 1930s and ’40s. Despite the slight hint of a Japanese accent that occasionally turns her intonation mushy, Fukumi handles herself with ice-cool aplomb, suggesting the sophisticated distingue of Holly Cole without any of Cole’s studied attitude or annoying hauteur. Particularly appealing are her nicely chilled “Girl Talk,” a dandy duo with sweet-voiced DellaRatta on “Candy” and the offbeat but interesting inclusion of Janis Ian’s bittersweet “Silly Habits.”

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