Eastern Promise – Jazz CDs

November 26, 2014

Kaoruko Pilkington Bright Side of Life (self produced)

Although little known to the CD-buying public, Kaoruko Pilkington is a long-established figure in jazz voice teaching. Since graduating from Berklee in the late 1990s, where she studied jazz improvisation, jazz theory and arranging, she has been a respected and sought-after private teacher and has also taught at various music institutions. Formerly on the faculty at Boston Conservatory, Charles River School and at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, she presently teaches at Wellesley High School, Rivers School Conservatory, as a jazz voice faculty member, and in the summer months at Berklee. Among the methods Kaoruko teaches is Jeanette LoVetri’s Somatic Voicework(tm). During these same years she has also been active as a performer leading her band, the kaorukojazz ensemble, mainly around her Boston base. Sadly for those who do not live within reach of venues such as Acton Jazz Cafe and Amazing Things Arts Center, before this new 2014 CD, Kaoruko has released only one other album. That was Joy Spring, which came as long ago as 2000.

kaorukoOn this new release, Kaoruko sings an interesting repertoire of songs that includes mainly standards, such as All The Things You Are, Night And Day, and What Is This Thing Called Love?. There are also some songs from the jazz world – Pat Metheney’s Bright Size Life, Ralph Burns’ Early Autumn and Duke Ellington’s Just Squeeze Me. Altogether, these songs provide an interesting insight into the singer’s worldly approach to music, the arrangements being the work of herself and various members of her ensemble. These musicians are trumpeter Greg Hopkins, saxophonist Rick DiMuzio, trombonist Bob Pilkington, bassist Keala Kaumeheiwa, with pianists Mark Shilanksy and Doug Johnson sharing duties as do drummers Bob Tamagni and Casey Scheuerell.

Chie Imaizumi A Time Of New Beginnings (Capri 74104-2)

After playing organ as a small child in her homeland, Japan, Chie Imaizumi then switched to piano but it was while studying at Berklee that her potential talent as a composer was recognized. Chie began concentrating on writing music and won awards in various countries. For this CD, Chie has composed music for a large ensemble and for her performers has selected an all-star line-up: Greg Gisbert and Terell Stafford, trumpets and flügelhorns, Steve Davis, trombone, Steve Wilson, alto and soprano saxophone and flute, Scott Robinson, tenor, soprano and sopranino saxophones, clarinet and flute, Gary Smulyan, baritone saxophone and bass clarinet, Tamir Hendelman, piano, John Clayton, bass, Jeff Hamilton and Paul Romaine, drums.che imaz Additionally, trumpeter Randy Brecker guests on one track. The music that Chie has composed and arranged is fluid and melodic and the band has a light, airy sound more in keeping with small groups than a big band the line-up suggests. The solos are very good indeed and the ensemble playing is tight. This fine, swinging album will appeal to many lovers of contemporary jazz.

As usual, CDs can be bought from Amazon, while some sites offer downloading of individual tracks. For more on Kaoruko Pilkington see Jim Eigo’s site.

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