2014 has been a great year for jazz releases, and 2015 will already get off to a strong start with the January 6 release of Art Hirahara’s new LP, Libations & Meditations. We noted when sizing up his 2010 debut for Posi-Tone Records, Noble Path, that the ace pianist only occasionally leads dates.
True to form, he’s taken nearly five years to follow up on Noble Path, primarily because of so many sideman gigs for the likes of Sarah Manning, Tom Tillitsch and Nick Hempton. On those records, his deep feel for melody makes him a sax player’s best friend and he brings that same sense to his own music.
Such as, Libations & Meditations. It’s another trio setting, this time with John Davis (Cassandra Wilson) on drums and the exciting young bassist Linda Oh, currently a part of Dave Douglas’ small combo. They get the ball rolling with Hirahara’s “With Two Ice Cubes,” a rollicking, snappy and clever rewrite of “What Is This Thing Called Love.” When he kicks it into overdrive, Oh’s taut walking bass and Davis’ supple snare work put a firm but not overbearing swing into the proceedings. In the meantime, Hirahara goes on a bop-ish chase for notes that never gets out of control.
And in two minutes, it’s done; nothing more needed to be said.
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