Miki Hirose: Scratch (2013)
An interesting note, the ambitious beginning title trackthough containing an element of the style, as solo statements from Mauricio Herrera's congas and tenor saxophonist Xavier Perez aptly confirmsthe music is not overtly Latin despite its power-packed punch as an opening statement. Scottish bassist Aidan O'Donnell introduces the hard-driving "Run & Gun," a primarily straight ahead piece void of the main theme but none the less, outstanding to the core. Hirose on flugelhorn comes to the fore on the soft and definitely, Latin-colored jazz bolero "Reasons" featuring gorgeous warm-toned lyrical playing from Perez where his tenor serves more than an accompaniment to the leader. This piece is certainly an album highlight helping to define the recording.
The excitement of hard Latin rhythms is revealed on the spicy "61-17" where the horns and the percussive sections play prominent roles as would be expected in such a hot number. The beat continues with drummer Jerome Jennings opening the swinging vibes of "In Need" followed by pianist Toru Dodo's more than appreciable performance on the keys. Hirose of course, is not left behind here evidenced by some more solo space. While the trumpeter prefers to showcase his original compositions for this album, he chose to include Duke Ellington's classic "In A Sentimental Mood" delivering a sensitive rendition that stays true to the original melody and provides a center stage for the trumpeter's forceful performance.
Hirose's sextet closes the album with "Brand New Year," a delicious modern straight jazz romp featuring a terrific drum solo at the end departing once again from the main Latin theme of the recording. Digging deeper beneath the surface of Scratch, one will find a world-class trumpeter who has indeed arrived as a player and composer, served quite well by the engaging and compelling repertoire contained in this audacious outing.
Track Listing: Scratch; Run & Gun; Reasons; 61-17; In Need; In a Sentimental Mood; Brand New Year.
Personnel: Miki Hirose: trumpet, flugelhorn; Xavier Perez: tenor saxophone; Toru Dodo: piano, fender rhodes; Aidan O'Donnell: bass; Jerome Jennings: drums; Mauricio Herrera: congas.
Record Label: Self Produced
Style: Modern Jazz