Toshiko Akiyoshi

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Hope Review

by Ken Dryden

Toshiko Akiyoshi's prolific output of CDs may escape many American jazz fans, since many of the titles have only been issued in Japan. These 2005 sessions, combining solo performances and trio selections with bassist George Mraz and drummer Lewis Nash, feature eight tantalizing originals. The trio starts off with Akiyoshi's playful "Feast in Milano" (based upon the changes to Cole Porter's "Love for Sale"), while the revisiting of her "After Mr. Teng" shows the influence of Bud Powell in the driving uptempo bop vehicle. Mraz's arco bass is prominent in the exotic, Far Eastern-flavored introduction to "Sumie," while Nash is showcased in Akiyoshi's explosive "Drum Conference 3rd Movement." Her solo "Memory" is a dramatic ballad that suggests a lonely walk around an empty home, while the pianist's take of the standard "Sweet Lorraine" is a subtle, introspective arrangement. Akiyoshi closes the session with the lovely, meditative ballad "Hope."

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