Japan, another jazz land, has some excellent surprises in store. Like pianist/composer Mamiko Watanabe..
Jimmy Rowles, Tadd Dameron, John Hicks and McCoy Tyner: nothing new under the rising sun? Yes, there is! Miss Mamiko Watanabe!
For her fifth album as a leader, “Being Guided By Light” (JoJo Records/Socadisc – release February 23), the young woman – who took up piano at the age of 4 at the Yamaha Music School before winning a scholarship to Boston’s prestigious Berklee School of Music, twice winning the Montreux Festival solo piano competition, and accompanying the likes of Joe Lovano and Bobby McFerrin – has chosen to summon the spirits of some of her mentors in the midst of her own compositions.
And so, “guided by their light” and in the company of Santi Debriano (double bass) and the venerable Billy Hart (drummer, 83), she radiates with flamboyance, radiant brilliance and delicate pianistic touch, “The Scene is Clean” (Tadd Dameron), “Island Birdie” (McCoy Tyner) – as well as her own work and that of her bassist in “Nigeria“, punctuated by a formidable, frenzied drum solo!
In this new opus, the brilliant Japanese pianist – at the helm of a trio of perfect homogeneity and cohesion – has devoted all her creative and stylistic energy to creating musical climates in which swing is omnipresent in both its essence and its modernity.
A beautiful and fascinating three-way conversation.
Mamiko Watanabe: piano
Santi Debriano: double bass
Billy Hart: drums
Being Guided By Light, Hit Couleurs Jazz, will be on Selection on Couleurs Jazz Radio as soon as the album is officially released, and will undoubtedly make it into the “Best of the Month” list.
The album is produced by Simon Belelty on the excellent Jojo Records label, and will be available for sale (vinyl) and on major platforms from February 23.