Tokyo-born May Okita spent several years living in Los Angeles, where she studied clinical psychiatry at UCLA and sang in area jazz clubs. Shortly before she returned to Tokyo, Okita recorded Art Of Life in a trio with pianist
Josh Nelson and guitarist Larry Koonse.
She has a pleasant voice, obviously loves the material here and takes most of the melodies pretty straightahead, other than scatting a bit during the closing vamp of "Let's Face The Music And Dance" and singing wordlessly
on Duke Ellington's "Blue Rose." And while "Blue Rose" and Randy Newman's "When She Loved Me" aren't covered often, and "Art Of Life" was co-written by Okita and Nelson, all of the other songs have been recorded
countless times. These renditions, despite the sincere treatments, don't stand out from the crowd; Okita doesn't take any real chances in her singing.
Nelson and Koonse modernize many of the songs, though, and highlights include the pianist's accompaniment on "Both Sides Now," a transformation of "Detour Ahead" into a waltz and a swinging version of "What A Difference A Day Made." But with the focus squarely on Okita, Art Of Life mostly is predictable, pleasing but uneventful.