Hearing Aide: Yoko Miwa ‘Pathways’

Without a word, jazz pianist Yoko Miwa and her longstanding trio’s newest album Pathways waltz you from the dance floor to the back alley with hints of everything from standards to show tunes and a few surprising renditions in between.

Released by Ocean Blue Tear Music on May 12, the album features pianist Miwa, bassist Will Slater (with Brad Barrett stepping in for one track) and drummer Scott Goulding (Miwa’s husband). A highly affable experience featuring three seasoned and spectacularly attuned musicians, Pathways is a timeless album that goes down smooth from start to finish.

Things get rolling with a rare reprisal of Bill Evans Trio Bassist Marc Johnson’s “Log O’Rythm” which is also joined by another one of Johnson’s songs, “After You” on Pathways. Miwa also borrows from a page of Joni Mitchell’s song book with a rendition of “Court and Spark.”

Lickety Split” takes listeners on a spin across the dance floor with fast-paced crescendos, spiraling into spontaneous jazz riffs. Like a rollercoaster ride, the song has peaks and valleys, with appropriately placed drum and bass solos building anticipation which Miwa rises to meet.

Pathways’ finale, a heart-felt rendition of the Beatles “Dear Prudence” could not be a more appropriate ending to a gorgeous piece of musicianship. A perfect blend of simplicity and beauty, the eight-plus minute track unfolds gradually and deliberately, with some sections of improvisation dispersed among this familiar classic.

Yahama Pianos Artist, JVC Victor Entertainment recording artist and an assistant professor at the Berklee College of Music, Miwa came from Japan to Boston to attend Berklee in the late-1990s on a full scholarship and never left. With more than a decade and a half together, the jazz threesome holds down weekly residencies at several renowned Boston venues. This is Miwa’s sixth album. Give it a listen and let Pathways bring pure beauty into your world.

Key tracks: Lickety Split, Dear Prudence