The sympathetic joy of listening to three accomplished musicians improvising and creating beautiful music together is aroused on Sympathy from the Hitomi Nishiyama Trio from 2013. This kind of sympathy, that of being made happy by the joy of others, builds on the listener’s own enjoyment in listening to the art created here.
The Hitomi Nishiyama Trio creates music that is exquisite and graceful, delicate and refined, where the music flows and builds and whirls in a stylish modern jazz style, with piano chords and melody lines moving over the deep bass and crystalline cymbals like wind passing through and around leaves on boughs, swaying and producing tranquil sounds of nature.
This musical style is represented as well by the album art, “Knotted Threads” by artist Akiko Ikeuchi, where, in the music and the artwork, intricate lines intersect and diverge like delicate brush strokes of light, deep and reverent (see also to the trio’s Music In You album for a similar art/music connection).
Like a large lake shifting slowly and powerfully, reacting to deeply-stirring movements, Nishiyama’s original songs on this album are strong, emotional and heavy: The opening “Sympathy” is an darkly sweet waltz; “Scarlet” builds dramatically in a thrilling 7-beat meter; “At The Gate” is a driving, imaginative exploration decorated with elaborate runs and flourishes; “Cross Section of Gray Cities” tells a mechanistic, futuristic tale ; and the album closer “Remains To Be Seen” evokes a purity of message like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, delicate and beautiful and about to bravely fly away.
The presence of the fellow lyrical jazz pianist Bill Evans is also felt throughout Sympathy. While Evans’ “Laurie” is performed as a sentimental homage to the influential pianist, Nishiyama’s original song “Tack” calls to mind Evans’ lyrical approach to jazz waltz playing, while her “T.C.T.T. (Twelve Chord Tune Two)” offers a reply to Bill Evans’s song “T.T.T. (Twelve Tone Tune)”, a musical puzzle adeptly answered here.
Leader: Hitomi Nishiyama · 西山瞳 · http://hitominishiyama.net/
Cover art by Akiko Ikeuchi – http://akikoikeuchi.silk.to/
* Audio sample at top of page from “Sympathy”, the opening track on the album.