For a genre that critics and musicians have been declaring dead for more than half a century, each year nevertheless sees new artists dipping their toes in the vast ocean that is jazz.

Some decide to re-trace and re-interpret well-established routes, others choose to follow the prevailing winds of fashion, while a daring few head off into uncharted waters looking to push forward the boundaries of the music even further by crossing over with other genres.

Pianist Ai Kuwabara made a splash with her self-produced album "From Here To There" with her Trio Project via her website in the spring. Word started to get around of a new talent in the making, and in the autumn the album was given a full nationwide release through EWE Records. The virtuosic and energetic performance is somewhat reminiscent of U.S.-based pianist Hiromi, though Kuwabara clearly has her own sound and is an accomplished composer who is most certainly on an upward career trajectory.