Eri Yamamoto Trio: In Each Day, Something Good (2010)
Half of the ten tracks on Eri Yamamoto's In Each Day, Something Good were composed to accompany a 1932 silent film by historic director Yasujiro Ozu, called I Was Born, But... Pianist Yamamoto describes the film, in the liner notes of this sixth album with her trio, as "a film about the unchanging human situation...serious and sometimes heartbreaking...[but also having] lightness and humor."
Working with Yamamoto are bassist David Ambrosio and drummer Ikuo Takeuchi. A studio recording made in Brooklyn in the late summer of 2009, In Each Day, Something Good carries the brand of Yamamoto's feminine thoughtfulness, which keeps the music floating on air. Although her fingering touches the entire range of the keyboard, it is lithe and displays nothing but an accomplished sense of phrasing.
The pieces for the film seem to be head-on narrative, corresponding to the meaning conveyed by the titles. "I Was Born" addresses the brightness of birth into a world moving on its own accord. "A Little Suspicious" lingers a bit. The piano theme shows the character of "suspicion," as it yields to the bass solo and returns in all seriousness, to be complemented by the strength of the drumming strokes and occasional strikes on the centers of the cymbals.
The balance of Yamamoto's original compositions share the same sensibility as the compositions for the film. Yamamoto enjoys linking the ostinato with the innocence of her storytelling, accenting notes off the beat to enliven the texture and give dimension to the topography of musical line. "Secret Link" succeeds in validating quirky abstractions; the music has an evenness about it that is inviting, and simultaneously embracing.
This is not to say that it has no power. "Attraction of the Moon" brings along with it the expression of an unmistakable yearning. Yet, "We'll Figure Out Blues" trips along without hesitation; the pianist laying down a constant tuneful construction with her right hand, with no aversion to trills. The persistent clicking of the cymbals and the bass entertains a near syncopation that deepens the whole sound.
A sure elegance is built into "Blues In Tunisia," an exploration that hints at mystery and smoke-filled bars, which Takeuchi evokes with the bongo-like sound he draws out of the tom, as well as the occasional shake of the rattle. The bass does an equally appropriate job, with its solo interlude during the improvisation between the thematic statements from the piano.
The last piece, "Sheep Song," marks a smart strong transition from the body of the album to the close. Imagining Yamamoto's lengthening arms as her fingers land chords, with more volume than anywhere else on the record, is easy. She is making some sort of declaration, which the bass and drums inherit and impose further. Then the three instrumentalists slide softly into silence, as if to sleep, satisfied at having found something good on that day.
Track Listing: Attraction of the Moon; Secret Link; Every Day; We'll Figure Out Blues; Blues in Tunisia; I Was Born; A Little Suspicious; Let's Eat, Then Everything Will Be OK; A Little Escape; Sheep Song.
Personnel: Eri Yamamoto: piano; David Ambrosio: bass; Ikuo Takeuchi: drums.