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Misako Kano: 3 Purple Circles

On the nine tunes of her third CD, pianist Misako Kano demonstrates an authoritative, adaptable style that shimmers with technical virtuosity, power, vibrancy and exhilaration. Her five originals provide exceptional listening and distinguish her has a cunning composer with a broad viewpoint.

Bassist Mark Helias and drummer Satoshi Takeishi are responsive colleagues, helping Kano deliver impassioned forays full of jetting energy. Guest saxophonist David Liebman enhances her envelope-pushing masterpiece “D.B.S” and adds free-wheeling expression to totally remake the standard “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” He also subtly augments Kano’s impressionistic “Tinge” and her billowing “Three Purple Circles.” Yet, while Liebman adds artistically to the potpourri, the trio alone generates ear-appealing creations that defy the norm.

Kano’s “Night Bells,” a dreamy, drifting trio piece featuring a gorgeous arco solo by Helias, is obviously influenced by Kano’s classical studies and jazz lessons from Richie Beirach, Richard Sussman and Harold Danko (at Manhattan School of Music) and composition master Chas Baker (Kent State University).

Such influences have rubbed off on Kano, but she has her own daring style that teeters on the avant-garde edge as she leads a clever, time-twisting, harmonious remake of Ornette Coleman’s “Ramblin'” and a pleasing version of his ballad “Broken Shadows.” Kano is equally at home with mainstream material, as you’ll hear on the finale, an eloquent, flowery solo piano rendering of Ellington’s “Prelude to a Kiss” that hints at things to come.

Originally Published