My co-writer for our music project Rinon has released her own album ‘A’ and it’s absolutely incredible. Asami’s new album ‘A’ features her singing in Japanese, English, Spanish and Swahili, as well as playing drums and percussion.
A legendary session musician in Japan, Asami began playing drums at the age of 3 and across an illustrious career, has played with the likes of legendary Japanese singer Yuzo Kayama, idol groups Morning Musume, AAA and Momoiro Clover Z, as well as a host of American artists, such as T.M.Stevens, Lee Sklar and Chaka Khan‘s band Rufus.
Asami’s world-reknowned drumming skills have led to her endorsing drums by Soultone Cymbals, LP Percussion and even designing her own custom drum sticks for various companies.
Having toured with some of the biggest names in Japanese pop music and so it’s no surprise to hear some of the most influential talents in session music appearing on her latest solo CD. Lee Sklar is a veteran bassist who featured on a lot of classic recordings by the immeasurably popular singer Yumi Matsumoto and at age 71, he recently toured Japan with the prog rock legends Toto. His humble, musical wisdom flows through every groove he puts down, and it adds a wonderful flavor to several of the tracks on ‘A’. Also starring on the album, the inimitable Luis Valle on trumpet, Tony Maiden on guitar and Pedro Eustache on saxophone.
The album’s opener Sonodores is a vibrant, latin-influenced song complete with blazing horns and Spanish lyrics. Asami is featured on both drums and vocals. This leads us into Kimi No Kawari Nante Nai Kara is an upbeat, driving j-pop number with a really catchy chorus and some subtly wondrous drumwork. The third track Sun And Moon features Asami’s sublime vocal nestled in a warm, traditional koto arrangement. This song feels like the best anime ED you’ve never heard and illustrates Asami’s chameleon-like ability to play in various styles with a deep sense of authenticity and artistic intent.
The fourth track Hana Shigure (Flowers and Rain) has an evocative ambience and immediately captivates. The song was recorded in a Japanese shrine, so the atmosphere of the trio’s heartfelt performance is almost tangible.
This piece is deftly followed by Tsurugi, which sweeps us up with a rolling river of congas, shakuhachi and shamisen. Next is Asami’s very personal interpretation of John Denver’s Country Roads, a colourful arrangement with a mix of both English and Japanese lyrics and backing vocals that express her fondness of and experience of the world’s different musics and cultures.
Negai (Please Give Him Wings On His Back) is a powerful, anthemic, pop-rock number that has such a strong atmosphere, it would also be a great inclusion in an anime or emotional movie. Tamashi no hono (Soul’s Flame) is classic jazz-fusion/funk and displays Asami’s effortless virtuosity as a drummer, with some truly inimitable drum fills, it’s a song that should appeal to any fan of Tower Of Power or Marcus Miller.
The album closes with the serene アンティノウスからの手紙 (Letters From Antonis), with truly stunning Japanese lyrics and an earnest, beautiful vocal delivery, this is a warm finale to an album that really exceeds in all areas of musical enjoyment.
The album is very well mixed and in my opinion, the CD is a very worthwhile investment, as the album lyrics and photos are beautifully laid out and the high sound quality really shines through. I cannot recommend this album highly enough.