A solo recital is the ultimate test of a musician's resourcefulness, an existential leap onto a lonely stage with nowhere to hide. Sumi Tonooka's consistently enthralling new CD Now-Live at the Howland (ARC, April 17, 2012) demonstrates that the veteran pianist is more than ready for this scrutiny. Long recognized by her peers as a scintillating improviser, Tonooka offers an authoritative statement with her first solo session, confirming her status as a capaciously creative composer and a keyboard stylist of the highest order. Recorded at the Howland Cultural Center in Beacon, NY and funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, the album showcases Tonooka as both interpreter and composer with two revealing sets. She devotes the first half of the program to standards and classic compositions by jazz masters who have shaped her musical concept. The second set connects the dots between her muses and her compositional imagination, focusing on her beautifully realized originals. An unusually vivid snapshot, the album captures the evening exactly as it unfolded, with no touchups, overdubs or sonic sweetening."The idea was to document the performance, sort of one evening in the life of an artist," Tonooka says."Playing solo piano is something I've done a lot of, as interior work, but not as performer. You feel like you're out there bare, with no clothes on. It's very intimate, really letting people into your world in a different way. I guess having lived this long I felt I could handle it." In interpreting standards, Tonooka possesses a clarity and probing intelligence that offers startling insights into familiar fare ("I'll play a tune for years to try to find a personal way in," she says). Her hornlike approach to phrasing transforms "I Hear a Rhapsody," a soaring standard introduced by Tommy Dorsey in 1941, distilling from the lush chords a lithe melody. In her hands,"I'm Old Fashioned" gets a jolt of energy, so a caressing ballad turns into a bebop workout that would do her Detroit heroes like Tommy Flanagan, Rol
  • Sumi Tonooka - Now (Solo Live at the Howland) [CD]
Publication Date20120823
Publisher ImprintAudio & Video Labs, Inc

Now: Live at Howland

Write a Review

Free Shipping over $35 and Free Returns