Yoko Miwa Trio — Pathways
(Ocean Blue Tear Music, 2017, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2017-10-09
When I think about jazz pianists I’ve covered on this site, I find many who are brilliant technicians capable of great feats of speed and complexity, several who are sonic explorers utilizing the instrument in ways you don’t learn in piano lessons, and some who bring harmonic innovations ranging far from the blues. Yoko Miwa is none of those. She is solidly in the realm of traditional jazz, though she does dabble in more modern material, including Beatles and Joni Mitchell interpretations. Her chording rarely ventures beyond relatively conventional textures, and often sticks to gospel inflected voicings, as on the opener “Log o’Rhythm.” With “Lickety Split” she proves herself capable of more advanced harmonies, though with “Court and Spark” she returns to simpler fare, as fits the folk-based nature of the composition. Miwa’s cohorts in this endeavor are bassist Will Stater and drummer Scott Goulding, and they fill their roles effectively, taking the occasional solo in classic jazz piano trio form. You’ll get none of the boundary-pushing of the Bad Plus or Chat Noir, but that is not Miwa’s aim. Throughout, it is her sense of melody that shines, with lyrical solos that flow naturally and fluidly. In this review, I feel I’m in danger of being accused of damning with faint praise, but I want to emphasize that I really do like Pathways. Yoko Miwa is a very melodic pianist, firmly based in conventional harmonies, but with a charm and sense of joy and fun that draw from history without being totally constrained by it.
Related artist(s): Yoko Miwa
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