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Canopy of Stars by Yoko Miwa Trio

While jazz is still rightly described as a uniquely American art form, the fact that it is now a fully international musical language is evidenced brilliantly by Yoko Miwa, the Japanese pianist who now calls Boston home. Canopy of Stars is her third release as a leader, following In the Mist of Time (2001, Tokuma) and Fadeless Flower (2004, Polystar).

All of the tunes on Canopy of Stars are Miwa originals, so her compositional chops are on display along with her piano skills. While fresh, the music is nonetheless comfortable post-bop. There is nice variety in tempo and style. Highlights include the mournful "Solitude" which makes heavy use of arco bass by polish bassist Bronek Suchanek; "Tango Soledad," which subtely transitions from a march beat by Scott Goulding into a slow tango; and the pretty and pensive "Behind the Clouds." Miwa writes clear melodies and builds harmonic and rhythmic interest around them.

Miwa's playing shows an appreciation for range in both tone and dymanics. She moves effortlessly between the delicate and the demonstrative. "Borders," a straight-ahead bop piece, offers Miwa a chance to stretch out on a string of solo choruses where she shows some strong swinging, then backs way down to comp underneath a bass solo by Massimo Biolcati. On both "Appalachian Trail (North)" and "Appalachian Trail (South)" she is more sparse and disruptive. Her playing has been compared to Bill Evans and Brad Mehldau, but she is a little more centered, not straying quite as far into risky harmonic territory.

Yoko Miwa is establishing a strong track record as a jazz pianist and jazz composer, and Canopy of Stars is an outstanding addition to her discography. If you enjoy fine post-bop trio jazz, you're sure to feel good about having this record in your library.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Yoko Miwa Trio
  • CD Title: Canopy of Stars
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Polystar
  • Tracks: La Estacion, Canopy of Stars, Solitude, Borders, Waltz for Willy, Tango Soledad, Appalachian Trail (North), Behind the Clouds, Secret Sources, The Silver Screen, Appalachian Trail (South)
  • Musicians: Yoko Miwa (piano), Massimo Biolcati, Bronek Suchanek (acoustic bass), Scott Goulding (drums)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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