Sunday, July 13, 2014

CD Review – Call of the Mountains, by Masako

While Masako's self-titled debut album showed the intriguing promise of a brilliant new keyboard artist, her sophomore release displays the confident mastery and tempered virtuosity of a venerable veteran musician.

In contrast to the cross-cultural East meets West interplay and atmospheric textures of the first CD, the new album lands solidly in the genre of jazz/new age piano, with the acoustic ivories taking center stage. And with this offering, Masako proves herself worthy of the echelon of preeminent pianists such as David Lanz, Jim Brickman, and Liz Story. I even hear a little bit of Bruce Hornsby in her compositional and playing style.

This is a flawless disc from beginning to end, with one beautiful and mesmerizing piece after another. As they say, the hits just keep on coming.

The majority of the album is just Masako on the piano, and hearing just her on the keyboard is pure bliss. She also receives standout support on four tracks from producer William Ackerman on guitar, Tony Levin on bass, Jeff Haynes on percussion, Premik Russell Tubbs on wind synthesizer, Eugene Friesen on cello, Jeff Oster on trumpet, and Noah Wilding on vocals.

This is without a doubt one of the best piano-based albums out there.

--Raj Manoharan

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