Hideyuki Hashimoto: Air

Air, the sequel to Hideyuki Hashimoto's debut album Earth (Fire and Water still to come, perhaps?), presents fourteen new solo piano improvisations. Elegant, tranquil, delicate, ruminative, wistful, impressionistic, sensitive, and serene are just some of the words that come to mind as one absorbs its forty-two minutes. A three-line poem that accompanies the Osaka, Japan-born pianist-composer's album succinctly captures the music's tone: “Floating in the tranquil sea / An echo of a falling drop / Visionary sounds are dissolving into the ‘Air'.”

The fourteen pieces are pretty much all of a kind, and thus any one of them could be regarded as representative of the recording. Like the others, “Drops” and “Yuyake,” for instance, are distinguished by Hashimoto's delicate touch, use of space, and tendency to let the rests speak as powerfully as the notes themselves. Echoes of the notes reverberate through those pauses, ensuring that connecting threads are always present to tie the pieces together. At times, a hint of jazz feeling surfaces in his playing such that a parallel might be drawn between Hashimoto and the ballad playing of Keith Jarrett and, in particular, Bill Evans, even if Hashimoto's the more self-effacing of the three. Only one setting, the affectingly plaintive “Epilogue,” tips past the five-minute mark and many are in the one- to two-minute range, a move that lends Air the character of a Satie-like collection of miniatures. The sound of the recording itself is also worth noting for its pristine clarity, even if a trace or two of ambient noise is occasionally audible—in itself not surprising, given that the material was recorded in a concert hall setting, specifically the Ritto Center for Fine Arts on December 27th and 28th, 2011.

December 2012