Miki Kono

For My Mother

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The "Manhattan Jazz Police" labor under the delusion that a jazz artist isn't legitimate unless he/she lives and records in New York. But that is utter nonsense. Talented improvisers live all over the world -- everywhere from Copenhagen to San Francisco -- and a jazz musician can have an impressive career even if he/she never sets foot in the Big Apple. That said, plenty of jazz heavyweights live in New York, and Japanese pianist Miki Kono got to record with two of them when she visited the Big Apple in October 1996. During that visit, Kono was lucky enough to enter a Manhattan studio with acoustic bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Joe Chambers and record her third album, For My Mother. Most of the time, Kono favors a piano trio format, although the trio becomes a quartet when trumpeter Patric Rickman is featured on some of the selections. But whether she is leading a trio or a quartet, Kono's playing tends to be very lyrical and melodic on this bop/post-bop CD. One of her main influences is Bill Evans (the pianist, not the saxophonist), and her lyricism has also been influenced by players who range from Hank Jones to Marian McPartland to Kenny Barron. Unlike many straight-ahead jazz dates that were recorded in 1996, For My Mother does not inundate jazz enthusiasts with overdone standards that have been beaten to death over the years. Kono, to her credit, does most of the writing on For My Mother; the only track that she didn't write is Evans' "Waltz for Debby." And Kono, whose pieces range from optimistic to melancholy, isn't a bad composer. Is For My Mother a masterpiece? No, but it's a pleasant and likable effort that is worth checking out if you have a taste for acoustic bop and post-bop.

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