JAZU: Jazz from Japan. Review. Maya Hatch. Li’l Darlin’

JAZU: Jazz from Japan. Review. Maya Hatch. Li'l Darlin'

Spice of Life – PBCM 62045 – 2012

Maya Hatch: vocals

Gerald Clayton: piano, Fender Rhodes

Ben Williams: bass

Jamire Williams: drums

Keyon Harrold: trumpet

More than one century ago, the meeting between two far away and very different cultures as African and Western, generated on American soil something musically new and revolutionary like Blues, which subsequently evolved into Jazz.

On a smaller-scale, the life of singer Maya Hatch is one of those cases that can be related to this crucial event in music history. Born in Seattle from an American father, with mixed European origins, and a Japanese mother, Maya Hatch developed something unexpected like a deep sensibility for black American rooted music.

After moving with her family to Japan at 11, where she had her public debut on a TV music program on NHK, the national Japanese television, she came back to America determined to make of music her life. Some years later, she attended the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York to merge in big apple’s fervid music scene. Here, surrounded by the sound of Jazz, R’n’B and Soul, Maya Hatch absorbed all those influences that eventually led her to her nowadays musical identity.

Indeed, her expressive and hearty voice has inside all those elements that suit very well with these peculiar black American styles to which she adds her unique, joyful attitude to singing.

Compared to her previous debut album My Foolish Things, mainly a collection of well performed, self-arranged old standards, this second album reveals the most personal and mature side of Maya Hatch who here widens her array of musical skills from arrangement to song and lyrics writing.

The cue was an idea suggested by pianist and composer Warren Field, one of her classmate in New School, who showed the singer an original restyling of Erroll Garner’s classic composition Misty. Delighted by it, Maya Hatch decided to use this new approach to define more clearly her direction in music through the revisits of some of the most famous standards, thus underlining the endless ability to adapt to the modern that these old tunes still keep unaltered today thanks to gifted musicians like those involved in the recording.

Theloniuos Monk, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Sonny Rollins: none of these giants of jazz is left outside of this project that dresses the standards with the most modern influences of Soul and R’n’B, in a way that seems to answer to the question: «How would these standards sound, if these jazz masters would have composed them today?».

Through this process, Monk’s ‘Round Midnight is provided with a strong rhythmic structure; Afro Blue, renowned for its Coltrane’s rendition, and Ellington’s Caravan are built around the dreamy, hypnotic notes of the Rhodes; the lively Rollins’ s Doxy gains an individual touch thanks to the reworking on lyrics by Hatch; Jobim’s The Boy from Ipanema is revitalized by a seductive, new harmonization.

Basic for the good achievement of the recording is the presence of some of the best young, high-class musicians in New York scene, the same who participated in Hatch’s debut album, who through their focused performances enlighten the session.

The inspired improvisations on piano and the mesmerizing lines on Rhodes of Gerald Clayton, the solid grooves of bassist Ben Williams and drummer Jamire Williams, enriched by the heated solos of trumpeter Keyon Harrold, all contribute to make this album dense of class and elegance in execution.

Maya Hatch covers all the sides of her creativity on two compositions for which she wrote music and lyrics, Chase the path and Together. These beautiful Soul ballads tell about invaluableness of life, incommunicability among people, tolerance for diversity and freedom from prejudices. Topics that are very important for the singer who offers all her emotional participation in the performances.

The album is closed by the touching interpretation of Ue o Muite Aruko, a very famous Japanese pop ballad from the sixties, world-wide known with the title Sukiyaki, that Hatch here dedicates to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on march the 11th 2001, a love tribute to her mother’s native land and to the country she chosen as her activity base.

In Li’l Darlin’, Maya Hatch appears as a singer provided with the cosmopolitan ability to culturally balance herself between two countries, America and Japan, and divide her heart between Jazz and Soul, managing to melt everything together due to that sincere love for life that comes straight from her music.