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Gentle Love :: Review by Don

Gentle Love Album Title: Gentle Love
Record Label: GEM Impact
Catalog No.: XQEF-1005
Release Date: April 25, 2009
Purchase: Buy at Hibino Sound Therapy Lab


Gentle Love is Norihiko Hibino's latest solo album. Released as part of his newly opened Hibino Sound Therapy Lab, it features simple jazz covers of famous Chinese, American, Latin American, and Japanese pop and love ballads performed by Norihiko Hibino, Yuichiro Onuki, and Syuji Narikawa. Does this album have a soothing sound and how do the arrangements sound?


I'm not familiar with too many of the originals on this soundtrack, but what is offered is very peaceful. Themes like "Subaru" and "Green Island Serenade" translate to beautiful smooth jazz, yet still retain that subtle Asian atmosphere. They are both very calming themes and are some of my favorites on the album as well. "Descendant of the Dragon" is also quite calming, but it also fits more along the lines of what I'd describe as having a "smoky" atmosphere. It'd be great in a detective movie, if you ask me!

Some of the themes I am familiar with are "Eres Tu," "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," and "Nadia's Theme - The Young and the Restless". The first theme is another great cover. While it doesn't try anything too ambitious, which I think is not the point of this album, it manages to strengthen the original through its use of piano and saxophone solo sections. "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" is probably my favorite cover on the album. Hibino's saxophone playing on this one manages to convey the love heard in the original and the little additional flourishes he adds here and there to the melody really accentuate the original.

The most surprising theme on here is probably "Nadia's Theme" from the soap opera The Young and the Restless. It's a beautiful mixture of piano, acoustic guitar, and saxophone playing and it's probably the theme were Hibino really adds a lot of improvisations to the main melody. It's a stunning rendition of the original, and the subtle guitar notes really strike the heart, in a good way. It's such a relaxing theme and, if I were to pin the success of the album on this one piece, it'd be a winner.


In short, this is definitely an album worth picking up. The jazz arrangements aren't the fanciest, only featuring acoustic guitar, piano, and saxophone, but considering the fact this was released as part of Hibino's new Sound Therapy Lab, I think it really does the job. To be honest, the first time I listened to this, I was laying on my bed and it put me into such a relaxing state that I ended up falling asleep. It managed to take away all my thoughts and worries and put me in a calming mood. For those who are fans of the originals and Hibino's jazz, it's definitely a fantastic combination. I hope he does more albums like this!

Overall Score: 8/10