Miwa strives to sing through the piano, and for someone who didn’t take up jazz until 1996, she’s a remarkably fluent mainstream player with a graceful touch and a self-assured notion of where each tune is headed.
Along with bassist Greg Loughman and drummer Scott Goulding, Miwa crafts impressionistic sound poems offset by splashes of cool blues. Many of her original instrumentals are Bill Evans-like in their introspection, but Miwa’s passionate playing renders them accessible. From the wistful beauty of the opening track “Sorrowful Moon,” to the stirring gospel touches of the album’s closer “Finding the Sun,” the mood often shifts between melancholia and exultation. The trio also shows a playful side on “Blues in the Cave,” a laid-back shuffle, and “Black Bunny,” an uptempo swing number suggestive of Oscar Peterson. The aptly named title track is a waltz marked by delicate exchanges between the pianist and her two disciplined partners.
Comparisons to fellow Berklee alum Hiromi are probably inevitable. Although both pianists are brilliant from a technical standpoint, they differ greatly in style and tone. Whereas Hiromi’s dazzling blend of jazz and rock often blows like a typhoon, Miwa’s gentle compositions waft like a soft summer breeze.