Keigo Hirakawa is a pianist residing in Dayton, Ohio, with the title of a Ph.D. in engineering, it seems. Another album that resonates with me? It wasn't on my radar, but I'm enjoying listening to it thanks to a recommendation. By the way, it appears to be his third leader album.
The lineup consists of a quintet with guitar and saxophone. I checked the members on his blog, and except for Robert Hurst, I hadn't heard of the others. The lineup includes Keigo Hirakawa (Piano), Brandon Scott Coleman (Guitar), Robert Hurst (Bass), Alex White (Drums), and Rafael Statin (Saxophone, Flute on track 5, Bass clarinet on tracks 5 and 7).
There are seven original compositions by Keigo Hirakawa, and it seems Brandon Scott Coleman contributed one track.
Many of the songs begin with themes that involve the interaction between saxophone and guitar. The saxophone takes on a straightforward and unpretentious behavior during the themes, but when it comes to solos, it transforms into a confident improvisation, making use of rougher tones. Keigo Hirakawa's piano, as the leader, is quite expressive with his right hand, and here, too, the combination with the bass is dominant. While his phrases are primarily based on smooth and flowing melodies, he skillfully incorporates passive and spiritual elements into his playing. As expected from a leader, he launches into powerful solos right from the first track.
The guitar, while making its presence felt with rhythmic riffs during comping, gives the impression of someone who plays ad-libs with a strong rock flavor during solos. This sound blends well with the music on this album and leaves a positive impression.
Regarding the rhythm section, both the bass and drums maintain a consistent presence throughout. However, as mentioned earlier, the bass tends to draw more attention than the drums. There is also a drum solo, and Robert Hurst lives up to his reputation.
There are complex compositions where the mechanical themes shift from an 8-beat rhythm to a 4-beat rhythm, and overall, the album's musical themes are clear and pleasant to listen to without becoming too heavy.