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Eri Yamamoto: Cobalt Blue (2006)

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Eri Yamamoto: Cobalt Blue How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Eri Yamamoto's two previous releases, Three Feel (Jane Street, 2003) and Colors (Jane Street, 2004), displayed her prowess as a pianist, composer and arranger. Her contribution to Thirsty Ear's Blue Series, Cobalt Blue, marks a significant change in her musical landscape. She's managed to step up her game further by adding new dimensions to her already formidable skills.

"Melodica Chops is taken at an accelerated waltz tempo, and the use of space and time is strong throughout, right up to the fender-bender abruptness of the ending. Yamamoto adds a Japanese folk song, "Takeda No Komoriuta, to the repertoire, a tune on which Dave Ambrosio's bass glows. The pulsating "Hot Coffee is a relentless feast for the ears. It races along and doesn't let the listener go as its solid rhythm pounds the heartstrings.

Yamamoto's touch on Cole Porter's "I Love You is light yet robust, and Ambrosio's plucked solo is beautiful. The mood of "Irving Place recalls an overcast wintry Sunday afternoon. The song begins quietly with Ikuo Takeuchi's brushes, Ambrosio's measured notes and Yamamoto's even-handed playing; then brushes give way to sticks and the tune intensifies, with bass and drums swirling around Yamamoto's dramatic runs.

Ambrosio gets the spotlight on "A Little Nap, continuing the luminous plucking he has shone throughout. The trio's interpretation of "They Can't Take That Away From Me recalls Vince Guaraldi's style, with an added taste of gospel. "The Quiet of the Night, Yamamoto's fine solo rumination, closes things out.

Cobalt Blue documents fine ensemble playing which blends the clear, distinct voice of each instrument into a well-defined, cohesive whole. Ambrosio's pizzicato is strong and diverse, and mainstay Takeuchi provides his usual solid rhythmic underpinnings. Yamamoto can be stunningly inventive, stirring, or as playful as a dolphin—and her sense of adventure is the signature and driving force behind yet another excellent disc.

Track Listing: Melodica Chops; Takeda No Komoriuta (Japanese Folk Song); Cobalt Blue; Hot Coffee; I Love You; Irving Place; A Little Nap; They Cant Take That Away From Me; The Quiet of the Night.

Personnel: Eri Yamamoto: piano; David Ambrosio: bass; Ikuo Takeuchi: drums.

Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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