By Hrayr Attarian
Mika Stoltzman – Marimba
Richard Stoltzman – Clarinet
Kazunori Maruyama – Piano
Hamilton de Holanda – 10 string mandolin
Eddie Gomez – Bass
Steve Gadd – Drums
Duke Gadd – Percussion
with members of Sybarite5
Japanese marimba player Mika Stoltzman (née Yoshida) brings together a multinational and highly accomplished group of musicians on her effervescent and breezy Taperebá. The Latin-tinged album consists of several jazz standards, a Paul Simon tune, and three originals—all interpreted with a refreshingly personal approach. At first glance the lineup looks unorthodox, to say the least, yet Stoltzman and the ensemble make exquisite music that goes beyond borders and defies categories.
George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” features Japanese pianist Kazunori Maruyama, whose agile chords and delightfully inventive lines brim with spontaneity and technical prowess. Stoltzman’s husband, clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, embellishes the main theme with clean, bittersweet phrases colored with melancholic tinges. Stoltzman herself contributes resonant and vibrant note clusters while bassist Eddie Gomez enhances the cinematic ambience with his reverberating thumps. The quartet often meanders far from the melody and always returns to it in cleverly unexpected ways.
The title track opens with Mika Stoltzman’s darkly hued polyphonic refrains, setting the stage for the piece’s composer, Brazilian mandolinist Hamilton de Holanda, who plays the tune with emotion and poetry. Drummer Steve Gadd and his son, percussionist Duke Gadd, provide an intricate, rhythmic support to the three-way conversation among the Stoltzmans and de Holanda. The trio members each take extended and graceful solos—captivating the listener with their virtuosity.
The Gadds open Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” with martial beats. Richard Stoltzman performs the song with whimsy and elegance. Mika Stoltzman improvises with breathtaking agility and poignant emotion. The Stoltzmans’ intriguing and synergistic duet dovetails with de Holanda’s crisp and lithe 10-string soliloquy before the band returns to the head.
The addition of members from Sybarite5 string ensemble provides pianist Chick Corea’s “Spain” with a lush and dramatic backdrop. Mika and Richard Stoltzman open the song with an expectant mood and slow tempo. Gomez’s lyrical and sophisticated extemporization matches Richard Stoltzman’s relaxed and stylish deconstruction of the tune. Mika Stoltzman demonstrates her unique brilliance and ingenious facility with the mallets, letting loose crystalline sonic sculptures that are simultaneously cool on the surface and passionate within.
Taperebá is a singular recording that is alluringly genre fluid, stimulatingly inventive, and intelligent. The choice of material and personnel, as well as the seamless fusion of styles—not to mention the splendid individual artistry involved—makes this recording a testament to the old adage that there are only two kinds of music, good and bad. Taperebá definitely belongs to the former group.