Pianist Art Hirahara discovered jazz while studying Electronic and Computer Music at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. During his junior year there, he began taking lessons from Cleveland jazz giant Neal Creque. He then pursued further tutelage at the California Institute of the Arts under the guidance of David Roitstein, Charlie Haden and Wadada Leo Smith. Hirahara moved to New York in 2003, where he resides to this day, in order to push himself and to be challenged by the city’s pool of world-class musicians. He’s since then released three albums as a leader on the Posi-Tone label. Sunward Bound, his newest opus, is set to drop on August 31st and features the star-studded lineup of Donny McCaslin on tenor saxophone, Linda May Han Oh on bass, and Rudy Royston on drums.
Inspired by the Japanese proverb “The sun does not know who is right or who is wrong. It shines with purpose and provides warmth to all.”, Sunward Bound features primarily Hirahara’s original compositions, which are deeply rooted in jazz tradition yet exude a particular sensitivity in aesthetics unique to Hirahara. Sunward Bound is a solid and satisfying album which hits all the right notes, from the cheerful and festive opener, “Ruse For Blues Shoes”, by way of the introspective title track, “Sunward Bound”, which features soaring and deeply inspired solos by both Hirahara and McCaslin, to the calm and soothing closer “Inverted Fountain”, a piano solo highlighting all of Hirahara’s prowess on the ivories.
For a taste of the album, stream the newest single “Brooklyn Express” below. In Hirahara’s own word: “This is an ode to my former borough of residence. I lived in Brooklyn for most of the 15 years that I’ve lived in New York. It was only last year that I moved to Manhattan. Like Strayhorn and Ellington’s “Take The ‘A’ Train,” “Brooklyn Express” is a tribute to the neighborhoods and the people living along the D Train, which runs from Coney Island through Brooklyn up to Harlem and the Bronx.”
Art Hirahara’s Sunward Bound is set for release August 31st on Posi-Tone Records.
Sébastien Hélary co-founded Nextbop in 2009 with the objective of introducing modern jazz music to a younger generation of fans. Aside from music, his other main obsession is food, particularly ramen and other Japanese delicacies.