Sayuri Goto: Flashback (2005)
No other three instruments taken together can display the versatility and virtuosity of a jazz piano trio. For her debut as a leader, Sayuri Goto has added her own unique take on this format with Flashback, a session that evokes the masters while validating a beautiful new stylist. Goto has most recently been a New York City staple in trombonist Benny Powell's quintet and George Gee's big band. Co-producer Powell's musical lineage traces directly back to Basie, and Flashback's right-on inclusion of compositions that are associated with Basie, Monk, Dizzy, and pianist Randy Weston (alongside Goto's own elegantly emotive pieces) makes for a highly listenable package.
A newly composed intro to Weston's classic "Little Niles sets the stage perfectly for the piece's delightful minor passages, and her version of his "Berkshire Blues is a deliciously slow-moving setting for Goto and her bandmates to stretch out. Bassist Nat Reeves and drummer Gene Jackson work exceedingly well with Goto's crisp, accurate style on rhythmically unpredictable tunes like Monk's "Well You Needn't and the quick-paced Basie standard "Midgets. The rhythm section induces a broad Latin feel for Dizzy's "Manteca that has Goto breaking out some first-class bop and lays back just enough for an in-the-pocket version of "Silk Stockings.
While Goto's clean precise touch makes her a wonderful new voice in the bop tradition, her originals display a melodically strong composer. The session's title piece, presented in both gorgeous solo piano and powerful trio formats, is top notch lyrical jazz whose catchy melody could be a pop crossover with the right vocals. Likewise, the lovely expressive melodies of "Akiha and "Night Never End invite vocal interpretation, while "I Miss You effortlessly blends a hint of Japanese folk with straight-ahead jazz. With her mature melodic sense, Goto has produced an exceptionally strong first effort.
Track Listing: Little Niles; Well You Needn't; Akiha; Midgets; Flashback; Shiny Stockings; Night, Never End; Manteca; Berkshire Blues; I Miss You; Flashback (reprise).
Personnel: Sayuri Goto: piano; Nat Reeves: bass; Gene Jackson: drums.