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Tonooka, Sumi: Now Solo Live at the Howland Cultural Center

Sumi Tonooka is a jazz pianist that if you have not heard by now I am sure you will soon. She is making quite a name for herself with a career now spanning twenty plus years and having studied under the tutelage of the late great Mary Lou Williams.

Her discography is fairly extensive and you can add to that her brand new release Now, a two disc set, performed live at the Howland Cultural Center in Beacon, New York. The first disc is a homage to her influences and contains mostly jazz standards; compositions by Cole Porter, Thelonius Monk, Duke Ellington, etc.

The first track "I Hear A Rhapsody" retains the sentimental quality of the original classic as Tonooka's piano lines are playful and completely spot on. The Duke Ellington classic "Heaven" is another great choice with its pretty melody and played with Tonooka's controlled passion. "Mary Lou Williams Medley" is the discs longest track and at over thirteen minutes it does seem to meander a bit too long. That said, the playing is top notch with some interesting builds, pretty melodies and shifts in tempo. Tonooka is a master of her craft, able to capture a poignancy and sentimentality that eludes other players.

Disc 2 contains six tracks, five of them being Tonooka's original compositions. There is an air of moodiness that pervades these pieces. Her playing is both intense and thoughtful in the delightful "Sojourn 1 and Uganda" while "Phantom Carousel" is a more introspective piece. Her notes have a dreamy quality that is hard to describe but is there nonetheless.

Matching the quality of her playing, the recording also sounds very good, especially considering this is a live performance.

If you appreciate solo pianists, the likes of Keith Jarrett comes to mind, Now should be in your collection. It's as simple as that.

Track Listing:
Disc One
1. I Hear A Rhapsody (4:48)
2. Heaven (4:28)
3. I'm Old Fashioned (4:15)
4. Mary Lou Williams Melody (13:15)
5. Evidence (6:41)
6. All Of You (5:18)

Disc Two
1. Phantom Carousel (4:51)
2. Sojourn 1 and Uganda (11:21)
3. Moroccan Daze (6:29)
4. Mingus Mood (7:38)
5. At Home (6:11)
6. I'm Confessin (5:44)

Added: June 21st 2013
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 1658
Language: english

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