Yoko Kawaguchi’s lofty debut release, Before It’s Too Late
, showcases her talents as composer, arranger and pianist. Kawaguchi began studying classical piano at age five. "But when I first heard the music of Monk", she says, ".... I could not stop smiling." Many years later, having studied under such jazz legends as David Baker and Barry Harris, and performed extensively in East Coast jazz clubs, Kawaguchi has released Before It’s Too Late
. Fortunately for us, it's never too late for good jazz.
This self-produced disc features six original compositions as well as solid arrangements of "Bye Bye Blackbird," "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep" and "Yoimachigusa" - All standout tracks, the latter a delightful duet with guitarist Satoshi Inoue.
Kawaguchi’s original compositions stand up to repeated listening. The aptly titled "Bouncing With Barry" swings along joyfully, while "Before It's Too Late" is a melancholy beauty. "Dear Van Gogh" and "Violet Mist" are also favorites. Throughout the disc, her crisp and precise style is warmed by the embrace of Inoue’s gentle strings, and smoothed by the rhythms of bassist Earl May and drummer Leroy Williams. The result is a highly enjoyable listening experience, no doubt the first of many fine releases from Yoko Kawaguchi.