Kunishima Taeko

Taeko KunishimaSpace to be.33JAZZ094Since starting piano studies at seven with Mozart and Beethoven, Taeko Kunishima has studied the Romantic, Impressionist and modern composers, plus jazz (via an interest in Miles Davis) and traditional Japanese music, and the material on this quintet album reflects, in varying degrees, a good many of these influences. Thus, a plangent Japanese folk song might provide the theme for a straightahead or even lightly funky jazz-based workout; a solo-piano passage drawn from the same source might draw either on Impressionism or the spikier pungency of another of her influences, Stan Tracey; a jazz-bass riff might underlie a piano solo laced with Japanese cadences and harmonies. This is not to suggest, however, that the album is characterised by magpie borrowing; on the contrary, courtesy of solid, committed group interplay from trombonist Paul Taylor (of Blowpipes fame), neatly fluent guitarist James Fenn and tidy rhythm-section work from bassist Oroh Angiama and drummer Michael Simmonds, its music coheres surprisingly well, the leader/composer's florid lyricism alternating with passages of robust jazz improvisation to produce an intriguingly varied but cogent set. www.vortexjazz.co.uk  Chris Parker's review page (9th March, 2006)