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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Never Never Land

Arbors Jazz ARCD 19393



1. If I Only Had a Brain
2. Piano Nocturne No. 6 Op. 9 No. 2
3. Virgo
4. I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face
5. My Favourite Things
6. I Could Have Danced All Night / I Won't Dance
7. Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'
8. I'm Walkin'
9. Never Never Land
10. Love for Sale

Sherrie Maricle - Drums
Tomoko Ohno - Piano
Noriko Ueda - Bass

When I first heard American drummer Sherrie Maricle, I was doubtful about her technique which (as a drummer myself, with a lamentable technique!) I judged to be slightly less than perfect. On this new album, there are still occasional hints of Sherrie sounding uncertain or fumbling the beat, although in general she plays very well. She is leading a trio completed by two Japanese musicians who are also part of the Diva Jazz Orchestra and the quintet called Five Play, both of which Sherrie leads.

Both the Japanese musicians are excellent players, and I am particularly impressed by pianist Tomoko Ohno, who is not afraid to thump the piano for funky or soulful tunes. In this respect, she is very reminiscent of Gene Harris. Bassist Noriko Ueda plays some well-structured solos and keeps well in tune. She even states the melody in I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face.

The trio uses one device which holds them together and gives structure to their playing. They often employ accents - almost certainly pre-arranged - which are punched home by piano, bass and drums with united force. This is readily heard in Horace Silver's Virgo, where the tune is given added impact by the combined accents.

Having been rather unenthusiastc about Sherrie Maricle's drumming, I have to admit that she creates breaks which fit in well as punctuation for most tunes. A good example is I'm Walkin', where she fills in the gaps with aplomb.

The album starts with an unusual choice: If I Only Had a Brain from The Wizard of Oz, which actually makes a swinging jazz vehicle. A Chopin Piano Nocturne is another unexpected choice, but Tomoko Ohno turns it into a gliding tune with a gentle bossa nova-style beat. My Favourite Things is also given a Latin rhythm which blends well with the jazz-waltz feel of the piece. I Could Have Danced All Night is performed as an easy swinger, with Tomoko Ohno's piano again to the fore. The double bass hints at I Won't Dance.

Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin' breaks up the tune's beat in an interesting way, with a further hint of Latin-American rhythm. The title-track is delivered with exemplary sensitivity by Tomoko, and Noriko adds a melodic bass solo. Finally, Love for Sale is performed in a mixture of 4/4 and 7/4 - a tempo which fits the tune perfectly, as Cole Porter's melody has a swaying sensation which suggests four beats then three.

Tony Augarde

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