On her sweeping, emotionally riveting and engagingly impressionistic third album Piano Images, Japanese born, NYC based jazz pianist Michika Fukumori uses her instrument – and a very thoughtful and crafty set list of originals and Brazilian and Great American Songbook classics = to paint a beautiful, introspective self-portrait.
Fully embodying her statement that “music always lights up my life,” the multi-talented artist - who studied classical composition before embarking on a nearly two decade career in jazz – creates a unique series of moods, introducing us to her versatile style via lighthearted blues and swing before sharing a unique four track suite called “The Seasons,” in which she uses music to share a multitude of childhood memories of her hometown of Iga, Japan.
With a mixture of delight and melancholy, she spends the balance of the recording sharing her interpretations of standards by Richard Rodgers (“Where or When”), Cole Porter (“Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”) and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Another key track is the haunting, dramatically rendered ballad “Oceans in the Sky,” penned by her mentor, Steve Kuhn, who produced her first two recordings. Here, the two engage in a powerful, four hand piano performance.
Piano Images is more than simply a collection of excellent originals and interpretations by Michika. It’s an intimate invitation to understand who she is, where she came from, what inspires her and, perhaps most importantly, why we should love her.