Ai Kuwabara—piano, electric piano
Will Lee—electric bass
This is a lovely gem of a recording. Made in New York, Kuwabara shows her passionate, delicate and yet rock-solid—even manly—style of piano playing to great effect on every tune. She lets notes linger and pounds bass lines, always with sense and taste. She has stellar help from Gadd and Lee, of course, but they help show her strong, original style clearly and directly. This is a piano trio album, but it feels much grander and much more spacious.
“All life will end someday, only the sea will remain” is a gripping, expansive tune that rises to majestic heights and symphonic sensibility.
Kuwabara’s originals are especially appealing. In some ways the centerpiece, her original “All life will end someday, only the sea will remain” is a gripping, expansive tune that rises to majestic heights and symphonic sensibility.
“Somehow It’s Been a Rough Day” is thoughtful, pensive and full of interesting changes underneath a super-catchy theme. “The Back” is stately, elegant and just the right closing tune to the CD.
The cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’” is especially well done, with a clear melodic vigor and plenty of openness to the playing. It’s a tune that could be jammed on, though the mix cuts it off too soon! Bill Evans’ “B Minor Waltz” is one of those pieces pianists include as a self-challenge, and in this case, Kuwabara definitely rises to it—the song comes out beautifully, even at a relative short time of 4:58.
This is a perfectly balanced recording. The mix of covers and originals works well, pacing and balancing the CD from beginning to end. Tempos and feelings shift easily and comfortably to tap into the full range of Kuwabara’s playing, and Lee and Gadd support Kuwabara at every note. The fifth of her CDs (in almost the same number of years), Kuwabara clearly has many more to come.