Miki Kono

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For her third release, pianist Miki Kono reunites with bass player Rufus Reid for a session which focuses on the musicians' ability to interpret the selections on the program without extraneous and irrelevant activity. This session of sophisticated playing is absent unnecessary musical verbosity. Reid gave Kono's career a major boost by appearing on her first album in 1996. Here, Kono favors a feathery touch, reminiscent of Tommy Flanagan and Hank Jones, as she leaves lots of space between the lines. At the same time, she has that intensity and devotion to detail that verifies her classical training. Her skill as a composer is as variegated as her playing. "Just Take It Easy" is a lilting samba that contrasts with "Lullaby for Benjamin," which takes on a classical bent. Kono's affinity for classics is shown with the inclusion on the play list of the well-known J. S. Bach "Air on the G String," which fits with her feathery, light touch. After playing it straight, she launches into a slightly jazzed-up chorus, but keeping that delicate touch on the keyboards. Reid, who has played with virtually everybody and who can claim participation in more than 250 recordings over his long career, shows his versatility and impeccable bass technical prowess with a swinging solo on J. J. Johnson's "Lament." His basslines are an extension of Kono's left hand. Alto sax player Hiromi Masuda, who is on four tracks, adds a lively solo to this piece, helping to make it one of the premier cuts on the CD. Working hand in hand with Reid and setting the rhythmic pace is one of the more in-demand drummers on the contemporary scene, Carl Allen. This session of cosmopolitan jazz is recommended.

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