As the sentimental mood hints at in the cover photo and album title, Akane Matsumoto’s 2015 release Memories of You shows a softer side with ballads and heartfelt tunes, set together with her well-renowned fluid bebop and happy jazz style.
Rather than being filled to the brim with high-tempo chases, Matsumoto takes us on a more subdued and delicate journey on this album. While her trademark agility and speed are not completely excluded, the overall mood of the album evokes a slower, more thoughtful elegance.
The album contains eight tracks with the pianist contributing three original compositions. On the whole, mid-tempo and ballad tracks get the lion’s share of the playlist. Oscar Peterson’s “Laurentide Waltz” is grand jazz eloquence with a beautiful opening piano solo, “Danny Boy” is slow swing, nostalgic but freshly interpreted, and Oscar Pettiford’s “Gentle Art of Love” showcases bassist Peter Washington’s solemn improvisation over quiet chords and drum brushes.
On the other hand, as an interesting twist, classic jazz tunes which are often heard as ballads are freshly reinvented and sped up here. The title track “Memories of You” is stylish and uptempo, sounding like something in the classic Oscar Peterson Trio mold, while Mancini’s “Moon River” is arranged with syncopated hits over a breezy, toe-tapping swing. Matsumoto’s piano improvisations in these sorts of songs are where she particularly shines, laying out bebop lines in a happy-go-lucky style with lots of chic twists and turns. In that same fiery spirit, her original tune “JJ” is included (a live show favorite which also appears on her Big Catch release), showing her breakneck agility and devotion to early piano influences from Phineas Newborn Jr and Oscar Peterson.
The final two tracks feature the pianist in a more mellow mood, with a tribute to pianist Mulgrew Miller in her bewitching composition “Goodbye Mr. Miller”, followed by Matsumoto’s “Hometown”, a tender ballad dedicated to Totori, Japan and communicating a shared love of home to all of us.
Memories of You by Akane Matsumoto
Released in 2015 on Concept Records as CR-03.
Japanese Names: Akane Matsumoto 松本茜
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Nov 12, 2020