Songs of Joy
Pianist Yoko Miwa had every reason to record an album of sorrowful music. During the pandemic, her home club, Les Zygomates in Boston — where she and her trio held a long-running Saturday night residency — was forced to close. Sessions for her next recording were put on hold. And, tragically, her father died. However, when she, bassist Will Slater and drummer Scott Goulding finally returned to the studio after a four-month performance hiatus, the joy they felt in reuniting spilled over into the recording. Miwa had been productive during the lockdown, vowing to compose music every day and to try to remain positive even as she was beset by challenges, and the contrasting emotions can be felt throughout the trio’s resultant recording, Songs of Joy (Ubuntu). That’s certainly true of her composition “Largo Desolato,” which moves forward with an irrepressible momentum, while also containing an undercurrent of anxiety just below the surface. Ultimately, though, Miwa’s exuberance wins out, like the sun bursting through clouds or like traffic returning to previously deserted streets.