[29 January 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Tsuyoshi Niwa is a bit of a show-off, though I doubt he created the image. As a pre-teen, he dazzled his neighbors in Japan by being good at both saxophone and computers. He studied chemistry, followed his love of jazz to New York, and worked as a food analyst during the day while playing jazz at night. It was right after he began full-time work in computer engineering that more music opportunities started rolling his way.
One engagement took him to Italy, which led to a chance encounter with trumpeter Randy Brecker. A few years down the road and they teamed up to make At The End of the Day with pianist Yuichi Inoue, bassist Phil Palombi and drummer Billy Kilson. It opens with a show-tune that has become a jazz standard, “My Favorite Things”, but the covers end there. Niwa composed the remaining five tracks, all of which are a serious-minded combination of melody and his laser-guided soprano sound. At The End of the Day doesn’t turn over any new leafs, but do all jazz albums need to do that? Especially when the guy just turned 40 last year? In jazz speak, that means you’re just getting started.