Akane Matsumoto & Nanami Haruta: For My Lady
For My Lady is a relaxing package of jazz standards performed by a sensitive trombone and piano duo. Akane Matsumoto, known for her impressive bebop and swing skills, joins up with young newcomer Nanami Haruta on trombone, and both players select favorites from the jazz standard library for this album, each song accompanied by comments in the liner notes translated below.
With a laid-back and reigned-in sound, the album is easy to listen to, suitable for relaxation or a comfortable backdrop to day or night. The music fills the room with a calm background texture, with most songs played at slow tempos or as freely-interpreted ballads. The dark-tinged wistful sound of Haruta’s trombone supported by Matsumoto’s wide piano dynamics creates a melancholy feeling with undercurrents of swing, unobtrusive, quietly persuasive, and suggestive of mellow musical stories being told.
For My Lady contains eight standards with one original composition from Haruta entitled “Midnight Sun”, a beautifully melancholy ballad. The jazz song chosen for this album honor greats like George Gershwin, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Hoagy Carmichael.
Shining moments include Haruta’s emotional playing opening Gerry Mulligan’s “The Real Thing” alone before Matsumoto’s piano joins with gossamer sophistication. Next, the bluesy “Please Send Me Someone to Love” is filled with admiration for Phineas Newborn Jr., one of Matsumoto’s favorite pianists, and shines with the album’s most soulful grooves for the players to dig into. Closing the album, a dreamy rendition of the ever-popular tune “Stardust” is a beautiful take.
Finally, the lightly bouncing tune “For My Lady”, written by the grand harmonicist Toots Thielemans, takes on a special meaning here with Matsumoto’s love for her princess puppy, who makes surprise guest appearances in the videos for “Angela” and “Kemono Change”.
(Translated from the original Japanese liner notes written by Akane Matsumoto and Nanami Haruta.)
FOR MY LADY
Akane Matsumoto Nanami Haruta
1. I've Got A Crush On You
Being largely self-taught in orchestration and achieving success with his masterpiece "Rhapsody in Blue", George Gershwin extended his knowledge and tackled the merging of jazz and classical music, dipping into the live performance elements of ragtime. Through his short lifespan of 38 years and his lifestyle which left many works transcending the boundaries of genre, he left us with a way to study the importance of finding one’s own path daily, keeping the spirit of endless pursuit and burning passion. Through this famous George Gershwin tune we hope you can feel our direct affection through our music. (Akane Matsumoto)
Antonio Carlos Jobim left this world with a huge number of songs, quiet and beautiful music like drifting slowly on the ocean. Finding a favorite among his works is almost like a treasure hunt. (Akane Matsumoto)
3. For My Lady
A long-time dream came true and a small, female mixed-breed dog finally arrived at home. Although I was excited about the calm, gentle time I would spend together with a dog, she surpassed expectations as a queen of destruction. Tears... Even so, her sleeping figure is like a pure and innocent princess, so lovely that it makes me want to cry. With this song, I tried to depict that happy feeling and always perform it tenderly. (Akane Matsumoto)
4. Byakuya (Midnight Sun)
Among these famous gems, I've mixed in only one original composition. When composing, the concept or title can spring to mind first, or sometimes the melody is first to arise. This song was the latter case and I played it live for several months as-is without a title.
However when I visited Lake Akan in November of last year, the cloudless sky, the faintly dyed red color of the setting sun on the snow-covered peak of Mount Oakan, and the scent characteristic of winter in eastern Hokkaido... It's difficult to put into words, but I wanted to adopt the association of how that scenery moved me.
(When I try to come up with titles, it can be tough...) Someday I want to try to see the real midnight sun. (Nanami Haruta)
5. This Is All I Ask
A work filled with the wonderful message that simple joys enrich life.
There is a mountain called Oyama in my hometown which celebrated its 1300th founding anniversary several years ago. The locals say "With gratitude to Mount Oyama" and live their lives with the blessings of the four seasons. And this richness is quietly conveyed. I learn through the figures of the folks living in my hometown that true happiness lies in being humble towards others and nature. (Akane Matsumoto)
6. The Real Things
A work by Gerry Mulligan that brought about a sort of feeling of nostalgia. I thought about that for a while and realized that it is like a lullaby that my mother used to sing to me when I was a child. I recalled the happiness of that time, the good feeling of being wrapped up in a blanket with Mom's singing voice and warmth. (Akane Matsumoto)
7. Please Send Me Someone To Love
There are several Phineas Newborn Jr. songs in Nanami's and my repertoire. This time, we recorded this favorite song, which is also the title of a Phineas Newborn Jr. album. Bluesy and funky, it's exactly what I love. It's a number that always creates a fun feeling. (Akane Matsumoto)
8. A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing
I fell in love with Billy Strayhorn's music, and I can say that encountering this song is what made it happen. I think that Strayhorn's music is always beautiful, vibrant, soft, and somewhat dark. I tend to like many things with these characteristics by nature. For example, authors such as Saneatsu Mushanokoji, plants like the Rindo Flower, and instruments like the trombone. When I encountered this song, it was love at first sound. No matter how you slice it, it is a charming song that I love. (Nanami Haruta)
There was a time in high school when I was addicted to looking up the lyrics to jazz standards and copying them, along with translations, into notebooks. I remember being moved by how pure and beautiful the lyrics were that so matched the melody. Ever since, it's been one of my favorite jazz standards.
By the way, when I happen to hum this song, I'm struck and transformed by the twinkling dreamlike melody and often start to feel uncomfortable or suffering. I wonder if there's something like light and shadow at work here. (Nanami Haruta)
For My Lady by Akane Matsumoto & Nanami Haruta
Nanami Haruta - trombone
Akane Matsumoto - piano
Released in 2023 on Concept Record as CR-17.
Japanese names: Akane Matsumoto 松本茜 Nanami Haruta 治田七海
Audio and Video
Excerpt from "Please Send Me Someone to Love", track #7 on this album: