Let's agree that pianist Eri Yamamoto's days of being described as a talent deserving wider recognition are now over. With Duologue, she now takes her rightful place as a headliner and leader.
This release for AUM Fidelity is one of two discs coming in 2008. Redwoods, a trio disc, will follow this session of duets with fellow New Yorkers. She has already made some impressive sessions and has been featured on bassist William Parker's Luc's Lantern (Thirsty Ear, 2005), a trio, and with Parker's Raining On The Moon (Thirsty Ear, 2002) sextet.
Classically trained in Japan, she has the touch of Matthew Shipp, her early jazz mentor. Her jazz signature is marked by the economy of Hank Jones and the percussive attack of Tommy Flanagan. Yamamoto composed each piece on Duologue for her playing partners, two per musician, showcasing the many facets of her playing.
"Conversation" and "Violet Sky," with saxophonist Daniel Carter, are both tender and delicate sympathetic dialogues. Both players move each piece forward, seemingly listening more than leading. Her friend William Parker lays down some woody energy on the ballad "Muse" and takes her through a Thelonious Monk-inspired composition, "Subway Song." Yamamoto's dancing fingers play off both urban accents and Americana show tunes on perhaps the best piece of writing here, as she displays her bebop credentials.
The highlights of this disc though, are the duets with percussionists Federico Ughi and Hamid Drake, where the pianist's style simply shines. With Ughi, she spreads her wings a la Jarrett/DeJohnette, calling on blues inflections and repetition. With Drake and his deep frame drum she plays with an energized freedom that is both old and new jazz. Her "Midtown Blues" would never be confused with a stride pianist of yesterday, yet her modern two-handed approach is wrapped inside of the Harlem most only read about in books.
Personnel: Eri Yamamoto: piano; Daniel Carter: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; William Parker: bass; Hamid Drake: frame drum; Federico Ughi: drums.