Hiroshi Tanaka田中裕士—piano, fender rhodes, keyboard
Takahiko Inoue井上尚彦 —drums
Hiroyoshi Matsuo松尾ひろよし—guitar (T-4 T-5 T-9 T-11)
Yasuhisa Kimura木村保久—guitar(T-5 T-9)
Takashi Ooi大井貴司— vibraharp (Deagan) (T-3 T-7)
Shinpei Ruike類家心平— trumpet (T-6 T-11)
Masaru Watanabe渡辺優— shakuhachi (T-8)
Some jazz listeners seem more particular about human voices than instrumental voices, but Tamao’s voice is so appealing, she draws you right into her artistry—and her feeling for the songs. “Indigo Blue” is her first release in several years, and it’s well worth having waited for. Her phrasing, tone and swing are the main part of her appeal, but the arrangements, material and backing put all her appeal into a beautiful setting.
A calm, stately take on “Round Midnight” opens the CD. Her voice is mixed front and center, setting the stage for other arrangements where her voice eases back into the mix. “Salt Peanuts” drives forward bop-style, with a tight arrangement and fast pace. On each chorus, Tamao’s voice feels more and more of a potent melodic instrument.
The blues of “Please Send Me Someone to Love” is delivered with guts and power, opening into warm solos from the band. While “That’s All” really swings, it’s also a foot-tapping tribute to the great jazz songbook, one that Tamao has deeply immersed herself in over the years.
Especially moving is the traditional “Sakura, Sakura,” sung in Japanese. Tamao gives it an especially delicate treatment here, with shakuhachi bringing out the traditional flavor and blending nicely with piano and her voice. That melancholy beauty is followed by a rousing, electric version of “Hallelujah, I Love Him So.” Tamao moves easily between modes and moods, showing the breadth of her abilities, but mostly it’s that she knows how to get deep inside a song and pull out the nuances and complexities.
“Indigo Blue,” also sung in Japanese, brings a fresh, pensive feeling back to the flow of the CD’s songs. Listening to its tenderness, one wishes for more originals from Tamao. Right after that, “Don’t You Worry About a Thing” takes off into grooving, funky jazz-rock.
The thirteen songs on “Indigo Blue” feature the vocal work by one of Tokyo’s most compelling and moving jazz singers. It’s a pleasure from start to finish, and a joy to listen to one by one, or all through. Highly recommended.