Yaya3: Yaya3 (2002)
The self-titled album by a trio of young yet established artists, Yaya3, is frequently sensational jazz, calm yet lively, smooth yet vibrant, piquant yet familiar. Disguised in simplistic harmonies yet paced with flare and consistently punctured with solos of boisterous cadence, this winning assembly of superlative talent almost brazenly sneaks up on you: it's not nearly as basic as it may at first sound.
That extends to the opener, "Slow Orbit," which plays off of familial, upbeat melodies with clean precision: we've heard these basic kinds rhythms before, but a new spin has been placed. It's here where we're first introduced to the pairing of keyboardist Sam Yahel, terrific saxophonist Joshua Redman and Brian Blade's drumming. But the album really gets off and running with the sprightly second track, "Switchblade," in which the trio does not so much work together as play a game of jazz tag-team, allowing each players to dance back and forth, riffing almost a seamless blend of virtuosic speed and musical clarity. Moods change and shift gears with each new tune with considerable skill, notably in the soulful "The Spirit Lives On'"; the odd yet haunting, "Hometown," which makes particular use of Blade's drumming prowess; the beautifully sloppy "Two Remember, One Forgets," in which speed and tempo bounces all over the map and yet remain curiously in check.
While the musical style and instrumental approaches are sometimes in view of becoming a tad monotonous for their own good, these guys compliment each other as soloists and, more importantly, as a collective trio, simultaneously playing with passion and purpose. They've made quite a debut, striking a balance between traditional pop jazz and free-form playing that is unquestionably worth attention, and your listening.
Track Listing: 1. Slow Orbit (6:22) 2. Switchblade (5:55) 3. The Spirit Lives On (3:17) 4. One More Once (5:22) 5. Hometown (7:37) 6. Aeolio (4:42) 7. Two Remember, One Forgets (8:40) 8. The Scribe (6:37) 9. Confronting Our Fears (4:50)
Personnel: Sam Yahel, keyboards Joshua Redman, saxophone Brian Blade, drums
Record Label: Loma Records