OKITA has a pleasant voice and obviously loves the material. Highlights include “Both Sides Now”, a transformation of “Detour Ahead” into a waltz, and a swinging version of “What a Difference A Day Made”
After a stint in Los Angeles and before returning to her native Tokyo, May Okita recorded this refreshingly lightweight album with musical collaborators Larry Koonse on guitar and Josh Nelson on piano. There’s an uplifting, simplistic quality to this set, which is mostly jazz standard fare but also contains one of Okita’s own compositions.
Okita’s vocal has a pleasant quality, coming across as slightly ephemeral; she lightly touches the surface of notes rather than delving more deeply into them. This is more an album of feeling, of style, than anything ground-breaking.
Okita’s petite vocal works best on straight ballads like Both Sides Now. She also gives a rather poignant reading of Randy Newman’s song for abandoned toys from Toy Story 2, When She Loved Me. Smile is another example of a ballad sung with tender sensitivity by Okita.
This is a quiet album, with no fireworks or bombast, but certainly glimmers of sincerity that are all the more appealing in their understatement.
Jazz Journal REVIEWS By Sally Evans-Darby – May 18, 2019
MAY OKITA/Art of Life: Recorded shortly before she left LA to return to Japan, what can you say about a jazz vocal trio where the other two cats are Josh Nelson and Larry Koonse and you were taught your moves by Tierney Sutton? The set card is mostly familiar tunes done up in a new way giving this a freshness that removes it as far as possible from the cocktail realm. It might be sitting down listening but it certainly gets your pulse racing---even in it's laid back moments. (Origin 82771)
MIDWEST RECORD, Volume 43/Number 78 January 18, 2019 - Written by CHRIS SPECTOR
"Gentle toned vocalist May Okita creates gentle sonatas with the spartan support of guitarist Larry Koonse and pianist Josh Nelson on this delicate collection of standards. Her sandied tone is attractively intimate with Nelson on an alluring “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” while Nelson provides streamlike ripples for a contemplative “Both Sides Now.” A troubadour’d take of “Detour Ahead” has Okita in a breathy form as she floats over Koonses classy strings, and is fluffy with the two on a read of the rarely done Ellington piece, the cheerful “Blue Rose.” She is coy while cooing on “What A Difference A Day Makes” and conversant on “Shen She Loved Me.” Unpretentiously attractive. "
Jazz Weekly REVIEWS - March 14, 2019, written by GEORGE W. HARRIS