The watercolor rainbow sky that graces the cover of pianist Hiroe Sekine’s second CD, After the Rainfall, serves as an appropriate visual metaphor for the music inside. The soft colors that flow into each other could be the aural tones of her and her six musical collaborators. Sekine’s gentle piano playing largely provides the rhythm and tempos over which the sound of a saxophone, flute, bass, drums, and even occasional vocals pour like sugar water. The sound is always light and airy. She wrote several of the tracks and covers Antonio Carlos Jobim, The Beatles, Thelonious Monk, and Chick Corea with equal aplomb. The effect is dreamy rather than serious. Sekine underplays the music, moving slowly and delicately on the keyboard. She’s not afraid of the spaces between the notes and employs silence as a strategy to get people to listen even closer. Sometimes this can be sleep inducing. That’s not exactly a criticism because the album clearly seeks to relax the audience.
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