Monday Michiru 4 Seasons Review

Album. Released 2000.  

BBC Review

The latest from Japanese acid jazz diva Monday Michiru mixes smooth Afro Cuban rhythms...

Niky Daley 2002

The instrumental intro that starts 4 Seasons sets the tone for the next 72 minutes with melodic jazzy piano, and an underlying Afro-Cuban rhythm. If smoove dinner jazz is not your style then you may as well hit the stop button now.

If you should choose to continue however, you will be rewarded with the rich vocals of Japanese acidjazzer Monday Michiru (the daughter of pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi and American saxophonistCharlie Mariano). Her wide and wavering vocal range, alternating between gutsy and saccharine sweet, is well suited to this strain of jazz. It also works well on the crossover r'n'b track "Do It Again",which is reminiscent of vocalists such as Carleen Anderson.

All the tracks are penned by Michiru. Some listeners may find the lyricsinspirational, being in the vein of Desree's hugely successful "You Gotta Be". Others may find lines such as "when you look around you, you will find what a wonderful world we live in" rather trite, in which case I'd advise you to let them wash over you and focus on the soothing quality of her voice instead.

The album is arranged and produced by Michiru and her husband Alexander Sipiagin who also plays trumpet on many of the tracks. The sound is tight, polished and overall very slick, right down to the backing vocalists (you can just visualise them clicking their fingers to the beat with wide smiles on their immaculately groomed faces).

There's an interesting mix of influences entwined into the music, which mainly manifest themselves through the percussion. At times this sounds very African (bordering on the tribal) but on other tracks the flavour is distinctly more Afro-Cuban. These different rhythmic approaches give the music a welcome edge but can occasionally be distracting and seem out of kilter with the lyrics.

4 Seasons would fit well into the mood category of your CD collection, being the perfect soundtrack for kicking back and relaxing. Slip into something more comfortable, pour a long cold drink and enjoy!

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