Pianist Yukari Inoue’s Sakura from 2016 blooms with colorful variety as she jumps across genres as brightly as she hops around the keys. This is her first solo piano album, recorded with a beautiful sound in concert-hall quality.
The pink of Sakura cherry blossoms fits perfectly with her “color of Japan” series of albums, complementing the purple of Murasaki (2010) and fresh green of Moegi (2016), her other albums on her Silver Fingers label. On Sakura, Inoue is alone at the piano, performing songs which suit her personal piano style with influences from standard jazz to pop and classical.
With fifteen songs at about 70 minutes, Inoue embraces variety for her solo performance and makes use of the full, deep sound of the special Bösendorfer piano (coincidentally, the same piano used on Seiji Endo’s Sakura Meditation, another brilliant solo piano album from Japan.)
Starting with the dramatic opening theme on “Hana”, the album unfolds with sounds subtly invoking Japanese music with a bluesy tint. Hana, meaning flower, supplements the album title and theme nicely, along with “Honeysuckle Rose” played in spirited stride piano, Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers”, the jazz ballad “Spring is Here”, and even the French chanson “Le Temps des Cerises (The Time of Cherries)” making nods to the cherry blossoms of the title.
Along with standard jazz tunes including “I Got Rhythm”, “La Fiesta”, and “Someday My Prince Will Come”, Inoue also performs her own compositions and well-known classical piano pieces, interpreting each song freely and adding personal touches by switching between jazz, classical, latin, and pop. Her flair for dramatic control is particularly lovely on Jimi Hendrix’s soulful ballad “Little Wing” as well as her “Sakura Waltz”, which closes the album in grand style.
Yukari Inoue · 井上ゆかり · https://www.inoueyukari.com/
Released in 2012 on Silver Fingers/Roving Spirits as RKCJ-2053.
* Audio sample at top of page from “Someday My Prince Will Come”, track 13 on this album.