Russ Ferrante, who produced Hiroe Sekine's first CD, A-Mé (here), was so impressed with what he heard of the rough-cut demos for After the Rainfall that he signed on to produce it as well; thus, there's a very pleasant flow between the two, though Rainfall branches out in its format, retaining A-Mé's quartet base but expanding into quintet and other formations according to her compositions' demands. Overall, as with her last disc, the atmosphere is of energetic gentility, with a multitude of clever riffs and insertons—as with Song of the Owl's sax and guitar catching odd phrasings harking back to the avian thematic of the track.
Sekine slows down the Beatles' In My LIfe, already a paced composition, singing duet with Arnold McCuller, then picks things up a bit in a version of Chick Corea's Windows, slowly opening the disc's tableau back out again. Bob Sheppard lilts into birdsong once more, on flute this time, as Toninho Torta's Aqui O commences and a meadowlark courses through the sky, dividing Sekine's mellifluous Portuguese vocal encantations, piano following in a dancing second solo slot. So, But, Anyway, however, picks up the pace and impact, initiating in a sliding electric bass intro by Jimmy Johnson. For this one, Sekine puts aside the piano for an electric keyboard and begins to Zawinul things up, Sheppard Shortering above her. The difference is striking but still in accord with the whole of the disc.
The mode continues in Spoon Key, returning to the angularity of A-Mé's There is no Greater Love, and Sekine produces a great lead line that dances, pirouettes, and bops along like a champion iceskater on a frozen winter's lake. Larry Koonse drops in to follow up on guitar as everyone in the quintet gets a workout, and by now we're ready for the finale, a fusionized version of Monk's Evidence that shows how adeptly this woman operates on all levels. The environment is still Weather Reporty but it's as though Wayne Johnson had arranged the cut—spiky, outré, convoluted, but always cohered to the melody, which, as we'd expect, is abstract. This cut will go over really well with fans of Isotope, Soft Machine, Turning Point, and other jazz progfusion ensembles, the cats who wove the style after Miles launched the seminal refrains. Larry Koonse holds forth with inflections from Gary Boyle, Alan Holdsworth, and all those fretbenders who put so much improv intelligence into the mix. Sekine, flowing right along with everything, thus shows she knows all the bases and will drop more than a few jaws as listeners progress from the CD's refined openings to its much more fiery close. Move over, Rachel Z, you've got company.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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