Yoko Miwa – Act Naturally (Victor Entertainment, Japan)

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Yoko Miwa is The Beatles of Boston Jazz, dark and heavy, but with a light touch which gives her effervescent appeal. Live at Scullers, her last effort, saw her in Rubber Soul mode, exploring new territories, but still with a retro feel. Her new CD, Act Naturally, like Revolver, is revolutionary.

 

She opens with a McCoy Tyner number, “Inner Glimpse”. She gives us an inner glimpse of her soul here, which is light and mellow, and slightly sad on the surface, like her hero Bill Evans, but seethes with magma underneath. I always love it best when she does these dark modal workouts, but here even I was challenged. She made me search my soul, just like Coltrane.

 

The next song, “Me Deixa Em Paz”, is a light Latin palate cleanser, before the next number, John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy”, which starts like a simple Japanese child’s tune, a single note rendition of the melody. It proceeds to strip of layer after layer of a love relationship, like she is cleaning a wound, which she finally dresses with soft gauze, and it’s as lovely in the end as if she were putting you to bed, and covering you with blankets and a duvet.

 

Elsewhere, she dips into standards, like Cole Porter’s “You Do Something to Me”, but the other sexy, revolutionary number is Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”.  She’s as gentle as Emmy Lou Harris here, and you can here a country lilt in her touch, just like a soft female voice.

 

Miwa’s drummer is Scott Goulding, who is like a gentle version of Max Roach. Her bassist is Will Slater, elastic and cool. She is so invested in the trio format it is like a contemplative devotion. Recently she did a film score, with more instrumentation, and it makes you wonder what she could do if she expanded her palette. But there is such minimalist charm in her trio, you could be happy if she just stayed there, as happy as if The Beatles stayed together

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