As a former contributor for a brief period with the blog on steroids known as All About Jazz, I left with very few positives which is indeed a shame. The one shining star and brightest moment I experienced as a critic for said blog is the discovery of Miho Wada. This virtuoso talent currently residing in New Zealand brings an unabashed joy to her playing as she moves effortlessly from flute to saxophone while accompanied by an eclectic back up band that is simply spot on.
Pop princess meets Flute ninja!
With the release of Exit 621 there is exponential growth in her talent both as a performer, composer, and producer. The tunes are addictive and while other writers may focus on time signatures, harmonic movement, and additional technical aspects of the recording allow me to sum it up in one word. Fun! Jazz gets a bad rap and on occassion suffers from paralysis by analysis. Not here.
"Go Go Go" highlights Wada's keen sense of rhythm and groove and is totally off the chain with an underlying sonic profile being a polka back beat. Simplicity and complexity are combined and driven by percussive grooves of pleasure. "Matt's Funky Monkey" is a groove-a-licious tune where layers of funk are pealed back like an onion and like "Go Go Go" is a tune that brings to mind some dance tunes from the more alternative rock audiences such as Iggy Pop. Oddly enough Wada has shared a stage with the legendary rocker and the influence is undeniable here. "Easy Rider" is a mirror image of the incredible cover photograph. The feeling of motion transcends the music and allows the imagination to kick into over drive as you zoom through her sonic tunnel of fun.
Miho Wada was an artist that I left in limbo when leaving A.A.J as the review was in the works but never saw the light of day until she was kind enough to forward her release to my office for critical review. While conjecture on my part, A.A.J seems to allow the space for Independent artist submission but they rarely if ever break a sweat when it comes to promoting talent such as Wada. The publication would in all likelyhood state that promotion is not part of a critics job description. I beg to differ. Critics are biased are cracking the code of acceptance is just as tough for the Independent artist as it is the writer. Fresh, innovative, and a unqiue sound that you simply will not here anywhere else found this critic hitting the lottery upon receiving this release.
Talent such as Wada does nothing but bring additional listeners into the jazz fold. Wada has an eclectic appeal and organic presentation. No notes are wasted and fun seems to be the rule of the day. In some brief correspondence with Wada I feel confident in calling her the happiest person on the planet and the direct impact on her music is her own personal message to the world.
There is simply nothing to dislike here. A rising star that should be embraced by a wider audience and some of the more main stream jazz media. More passion, less academia. You gotta love that!