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Emiko Voice: Standard Trio
Emiko Voice is always an interesting, active, and boundary-exploring musician, often simultaneously involved in a number of projects. Emphasizing her voice talent in her name (compared to a vocal or vocalist role), her singing, scatting, vocalese, and other voice skills are used liberally in her music. This includes her popular Brazilian music duo Meu Coração, swing and bebop recordings with pianist Suga Dairo, various chorus groups, duos, trios, and other groups with sometimes unconventional jazz combo formations.
On this release from 2022, Emiko Voice releases music from her Standard Trio project, capturing songs recorded over two live concerts at the jazz club Lydian in Tokyo and self-described as an “out of standard” performance. On this album’s nine tracks, the petite, power-packed artist sings and plays percussion with her bandmates Keisuke Ohta on violin and voice, and Atsushi Abe on piano.
With Ohta’s Arabianesque violin and occasional voice punctuations, and the fluid and full presence of Abe’s piano, the music wanders evocatively between lush Latin music and scene-setting songs, and really brings home the feeling of a concert performance with its energy, live sound, and audience applause. Through it all, Emiko Voice’s vocal prowess takes center stage, and at turns is delicate, soft, and spirited, acrobatically agile and in control.
Over half of the music draws from Latin influences, yet a distinct feeling is delivered from track to track. On the Latin-influenced music, “Cucurrucucú Paloma”, a Mexican love song, is tropically colorful, “Spain” is upbeat and exciting, “Caravan” is wild and exotic, and “Chovendo na Roseira” is smooth and hypnotic. On the storytelling dance of “Berimbau”, Emiko Voice uses both Japanese narration and Portuguese vocals, and violinist Ohta later solos with his violin while interjecting vocal chants, before the band comes together for a splendid and rousing conclusion.
The other album tracks include “Azure”, a dreamy, drifting tune from Duke Ellington and Irving Mills (who, with Juan Tizol, also gave us “Caravan”), “Improvisation”, a dramatic scene of wordless vocalizing and musical painting, a brief and bare “My Funny Valentine”, and the album closer, “Spring Is Here”, the bittersweet parting of a beautiful ballad that is almost played as a lullaby.
Standard Trio by Emiko Voice
EMiKO VOiCE - voice, percussions, kalimba
Keisuke Ohta - violin, voice
Atsushi Abe - piano
Released in 2022 on GardenNotes Music as GNM-1018.
Japanese names: EMiKO VOiCE エミコヴォイス Keisuke Ohta 太田惠資 Atsushi Abe 阿部篤志
Meu Coracao: Hall Tone (2009)
Emiko Voice x Suga Dairo: Phase 2 (2009)
Meu Coracao: A Tempo (2016)
Emiko Voice: Carta (2017)
Audio and Video
Excerpt from “Chovendo na Roseira”, track #6 on this album: