His exuberance is catchy as he flies over chord changes in a bounding, colorful manner that is at times reminiscent of Keith Jarrett’s fluid style. On ballads, Wakai plays standards with a loving touch, such as on the charming “Easy To Love” and heartfelt “Over The Rainbow”.
Apart from standard jazz, different sides of solo piano are portrayed among the eleven tracks. Exciting drama builds with a rock-ish, upbeat “Better Days Ahead” (Pat Metheny) and a pop exploration of “Great Day” (Paul McCartney) which evokes music Brad Mehldau might offer. A moving cover of a Japanese animation theme, “Aimo Tori No Hito” is included, played in a sad yet hopeful mood of deep meaning.
With a wink to the album title (perhaps alluding to Debussy’s classical work Images for piano), Wakai’s own classical exploration “Afterimages” tells a dreamlike story, painting a canvas with vivid abstract modernism. Finally, the pianist closes the album gently with “Duke Ellington’s Sound Of Love”, played like a soft lullaby.
Pianist: Yuya Wakai · 若井優也 · https://matheyoung.wordpress.com
Released in 2013 on Mikorin Music as MM-002.
Here is a live video of Yuya Wakai playing “All The Things You Are” in a jazz trio setting:
* Audio sample at top of page is an excerpt from the opening track on this album, “There Will Never Be Another You”.