Japanese-born vocalist Mari Koga has been living in New York for some time now, performing in the City's most prestige's jazz clubs and making a name for herself in one of the most vibrant jazz scenes around. With the help of long-time friend and fellow Japanese artist, pianist Chiemi Nakai, Koga now presents her astonishing debut album Perfect Blue, containing fresh new arrangements of a few jazz standards and brisk new originals with elements of Afro-Cuban rhythms comprising the main theme of the album. Forming a new band (Afronaughtica) in 2010 with co-leader Nakai, Koga immersed herself in the Afro-Latin genre where she cemented her credentials as a Latin-styled singer as she demonstrates here.
The vocalist collaborates with percussionist Willie Ruiz, who not only performs on the recording, but also lends a hand as co-producer. For this first effort, Koga enlist the help of some nineteen musicians among them, veteran drummer Vince Cherico, composer/bassist Pedro Giraudo, and trumpeter of note Mike Rodriguez. Koga's arrangement of the immortal standard "Invitation," turns the tune into a Latin burner featuring Alejandro Aviles on tenor saxophone and Sebastian Nickoll on the Congas.