Ayako Shirasaki – Some Other Time

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I had the pleasure of discovering Ayako Shirasaki’s music when I wrote a review for her previous album recorded live in Hamburg. For those who don’t know her yet, this Japan native is one of the best young pianists out there.

In Some Other Time, Shirasaki comes back in a trio format accompanied by two extraordinaire musicians: bassist Noriko Ueda and drummer Quincy Davis.

Shirasaki is a pianist of limitless imagination, displayed on each improvisation and ingenious arrangement. Her take on “April in Paris” and on Sonny Rollins’ “Oleo” keeps the listener engaged with her breathless energy, constant tempo changes and unexpected improvisational turns.

Three of the twelve tracks are Shirasaki’s original compositions: the jazz ballad “Peace of Mind”, the intense harmonic and rhythmic lines of the samba “Sunrise”, and the provocative harmonies and graceful swing of “3 steps forward”.

Shirasaki demonstrates her softer, lyrical side on Leonard Bernstein’s “Some Other Time”, on Gershwin’s “My Man is Gone” and shows the diversity of her taste music in the funky “Long ago and far away”. Shirasaki’s clean technique and tonal beauty are in full display on her solo piano take of Duke Ellington’ “Sophisticated Lady”. Some Other Time also includes two songs from Shirasaki’s native Japan: “Yosaku”, a Japanese country music song and “Antagata Dokosa”, a children folk song which means “where are you from”? On both Shirasaki brilliantly blends the jazz and Japanese music languages.

Tracks: Sunrise, 3 steps forward, Yosaku, Some other time, Oleo, April in Paris, My Man’s Gone, Long ago and far away, Sophisticated Lady, Antagata Dokosa, Peace of Mind, Hope.

Musicians: Ayako Shirasaki – piano, Noriko Ueda – bass, Quincy Davis – drums

Ayako Shirasaki on the web: www.ayakoshirasaki.com

Label: Jan Matthies Records | Release date: August 2013

Reviewed by: Wilbert Sostre