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TOMOKO MIYATA :: Swings New Life into Standards, at Cafe Metropol
by Ron Sagye La Rue

In September inventive vocalist,Tomoko Miyata swung into Cafe Metropol, in downtown Los Angeles artists district. Backed by a quartet: Billy Kerr,Flute&Tenor Sax;Gary Blumer,Electric piano;Tommy Curse,Bass;Gus Kund,Drums. Performing most of the material on her recently released CD "This Side Up". The Band opened up(sans Tomoko)with "Just Friends" a nice,easy-going performance. Tomoko entered with "The Very Thought of You" not unlike the her recorded version. I mention this only because more than a few artists sound good on CD,but disappoint when heard live doing the same material.

Not Tomoko! Her voice had/has the same quality,feeling and projection-- live!. Another thing you have to witness in person is her stage presence Wow! she's quite energetic! When not singing snapping her fingers,physically grooving to the band playing. Doing "Fly Me to The Moon" I'm sure would've brought a smile to Sinatra's face. "Besame Mucho" was sung in its original language Spanish and Kerr on flute provided some wonderful sonorous sounds.
drummer, Kund played with his hands(without sticks)adding to the exotic feel and mood of the song. Gerry Mulligan's "Line for Lyons" done "scat style" Tomoko pulled it off magnificently,seeming effortlessly,she really can swing,in,out and around the familiar melody.

Another hi-point of the evening was "Hisame"/"Stolen Moments" the former segued into the latter you might call it a Japanese blues performed in Japanese/English. Hisame translates to "icy rain".
Something I'd not expected was "No Soap,No Hope Blues" which probably hasn't been done since Anita O'Day recorded in the early 1950s,surely not live.
Yes, Tomoko's musical book is varied and deep. Tomoko let a friend and music student Emi Kasai sing "Autumn Leaves". "Afro Blue" the classsic was sung by Tomoko and she made it her own. Other songs performed were "Tonight"(from West Side Story),"Dindi" Sabor A Mi".
The way she interprets these standards is quite refreshing and original!
All I can say is that Tomoko Miyata gives 100% to her live audience
and you've got to see her LIVE! One other point I'd like to make is that the way audience area was structured Tomoko sang to each section where the audience was sitting.
published 12.10.2005 2005 jazz news :: home page

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