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Yoko Miwa Trio: Songs of Joy (Ubuntu)

Review of the pianist/composer's eighth studio recording with her trio

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Cover of Yoko Miwa Trio album Songs of Joy
Cover of Yoko Miwa Trio album Songs of Joy

Bill Evans she isn’t, but Yoko Miwa conjures some of that same two-hand-chording majesty, sustain, and a sense of slowly stirring stars. She’ll let rip with left-hand runs neat as you please, but she always finds comfort, and quiet galaxies, by letting her hands talk to each other in adroit voices. And as in Evans’ best trios, everyone dissolves into everyone else. Drum solos drop down frequently, often casually—some trading fours pro forma at the back end of a tune, but materializing seemingly whenever the collective muse nods. Scott Goulding’s snare pops in a searing semblance of Roy Haynes’ famed “Snap Crackle.” Will Slater’s bass emerges, less often than Goulding, but with a sure-fingered inquisitiveness to hone your appetite.

“Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” the set closer, means to grab ink and obviously did (Q.E.D.), but the thundering à la Led Zeppelin parts for Miwa’s evocation of ruined romance as ruined buildings, incomplete structures, with bowed, lamenting melody from guest bassist Brad Barrett. My fave flip, though: Turning Monk’s “Think of One” into funk. Not raging funk, but a genteel bump though the head melody and bobbing riff syncopation. One of the finest albums of this fledgling year.

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