CD Review: Taeko Kunishima – Late Autumn

Taeko Kunishima – Late Autumn
(33JAZZ225. CD review by Chris Parker)

On this, her third album for 33Jazz, Shizuoka-born, London-based pianist Taeko Kunishima has retained only shakahuchi player Clive Bell from her previous recording, Red Dragonfly, but the energy level attained on that fine album remains undimmed here, provided by trumpeter Sean Corby, bassist Paul Moylan, and drummer Maxwell Hallett, supplemented by percussionist David Ross and (on the title-track) by vocalist Rio Roberts.

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Instead of the relatively conventional line-up of Red Dragonfly (the core band of which was a piano trio plus saxophonist Russell Van Den Berg), Late Autumn sets the composer/leader’s alternately punchy and lyrical piano against an intriguing mix of trumpet and flute, tastefully tweaked and occasionally embellished electronically by producer Bell.

The all-original material ranges from the texturally adventurous, stirring ‘Return to Life’, its pleasingly splintered, somewhat woozy theme giving rise to vigorous piano and flaring trumpet solos; the alternately slinky and infectiously brisk ‘Kimie’; the appropriately softly pattering ‘Spring Rain’; and the lighter, brighter percussion-driven piece ‘Promise’, but whatever they’re asked to play, the band cohere impressively, Bell’s shakahuchi in particular lending the whole album a welcome distinctiveness. Imaginative, unexpectedly varied, powerful but sensitive music from a pianist who should be much better known.

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