Review

MICHIKA FUKUMORI Quality Time

Album · 2016 · Hard Bop
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3.5/5 ·
js
There are so many talented jazz pianists these days, its hard to keep up with all of them. Possibly you have not heard of Michika Fukumori yet, if not, then you can add her to your list of rising star pianists that you need to check out. Michika is a native of Japan who studied classical and jazz music in her home country, before moving to New York City in 2000. After arriving in the US, Fukumori immersed herself in the jazz scene and began a long lasting study with pianist Steve Kuhn, who Michika describes as her “teacher, mentor and musical hero.” On Fukumoni’s second CD, “Quality Time”, you can hear the Kuhn influence. Fukumori’s main style could best be described as sophisticated hard bop in which her refined classical training is mixed with a very bluesy harmonic language. In this respect Michika bears some similarities to Oscar Peterson, Horace Silver and Gene Harris, all pianists who approached the blues with a refined touch. On the CD’s third track, “The Story I Want to Tell”, Fukumori reveals an interest in lyrical contemporary jazz along the lines of Brad Mehldau or Keith Jarrett.

Fukumori has a great support group on here with veteran drummer Billy Drummond, who has played with Horace Silver and Sonny Rollins, manning the trap kit, and Aiden O’Donnell on bass. Aiden takes several solos, but he is sometimes hard to hear, a little better definition on the eq would have helped bring out his bass better. There are plenty of good tracks on here, with Michika supplying four originals to supplement eight standards, the best of which could be the always sublime “Solitude” by Duke Ellington. Its also great that Michika is writing originals, and as her writing style grows and becomes more distinct, this will be the feature that will help bring more attention to her recordings in the future.
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