Jazz pianist Miki Hayama’s 2006 album Prelude to a Kiss features beautiful piano jazz improvisation over smart compositions with a solid jazz trio, straightforward and serious modern jazz. This album, her second as leader, received a 5-start rating from the Japanese jazz magazine Swing Journal.

While the album cover art and title present a gently elegant mood, the music does not shy away from stimulating energy. The ten tracks cover an equal amount of original compositions and rearranged jazz covers (“Beatrice”, “I Love You”, “Skylark”, “Whose Shoes”, and “Prelude to a Kiss”).

The group has a vibrant sound similar to classic jazz trios such as those led by McCoy Tyner and Kenny Barron, with Hayama spinning fluid improvisations while locking into the solid rhythm work of bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa and drummer Eric McPherson. The cover songs allow the group to re-imagine classic songs in personalized ways with proficiency honoring the modern jazz language, and Hayama’s original songs offer different facets of her creative style. Her compositions range from thrilling jazz propulsion on “At the Key Point” and “Frog Dance”, Andrew Hill-style avant-garde/bop with “Into The Silence”, and flowing and fantastical grandness on “Canvas in Blue” and “Taichi’s Playground”.

Throughout, Hayama’s piano is impressively quick, crystalline light without being overly flashy, yet full and confident as on the solo piano rendition of “Prelude to a Kiss”, a romantic ballad which closes the album warmly.

Prelude to a Kiss by Miki Hayama

Released in 2006 on Art Jazz Records as ARTCD-112.

Japanese Names: Miki Hayama 早間美紀 Kiyoshi Kitagawa 北川潔

Audio and Video

Excerpt from "Beatrice", the first track on this album:

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Jan 9, 2020