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Sumi Tonooka: Secret Places

Pianist Tonooka, of Asian and African-American lineage, has some impressive names associated with her debut release: pianist Kenny Barron is the producer, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Lewis Nash are featured on five numbers, and Rudy Van Gelder recorded and mastered. There are nine tunes, of which six are composed by Tonooka. The other three numbers are “Tempus Fugit,” “‘Round Midnight,” and “Over the Rainbow.” Tonooka’s tunes are slow in tempo, thoughtful, with deep currents.

Especially interesting are “Susumu,” “Beginning Again,” and “Secret Places,” the latter a perfect description of where she takes her listeners. The tunes with Reid and Nash are bouncier and “Susumu,” in particular, has lots of swing. The only tune that doesn’t work on this release is “Tempus Fugit.” I admire her bravery in choosing this number but there’s probably not a pianist alive who could pull it off and make us forget the original by Bud Powell.

Originally Published