As the denizens of Arthur's Tavern in Greenwich Village undoubtedly know, pianist Eri Yamamoto is one of jazz's most dynamic new talents. Her new CD, Three Feel,
gives the listener an idea of what her audiences are treated to each week. Joining her on this trio date are drummer Ikuo Takeuchi and bassist Alan Hampton.
Yamamoto's singular approach to playing is evident from jump as she opens with a fabulously dynamic and up-tempo rendition of John Coltrane's, er, Richard Rodgers' "My Favorite Things," the pianist's frenetic runs driven by Takeuchi's passionate drumming. "Hi-Sai" opens up deliberately with a dialogue between Yamamoto and Takeuchi, until a brief plucked statement by Hampton signals the change to a mid-tempo groove. "Velvet," written by the Hampton, is a challenging ballad, featuring Takeuchi alternating between brushes and sticks and Yamamoto playing with introspection, all of it glued together by the composer's confident bass.
"Just In Time" features fabulous trio work and a nice solo by Takeuchi, who contributes the jaunty and humorously-titled "Frog Days Afternoon," which has more great bass work. "Two Feel," the ostensible title track, opens with a plucked bass and drum dialogue and blossoms into a playful blues. "Tibet Smiles" begins slowly, then builds to a quick tempo, with more great bass and dynamic drumming by Takeuchi. The disc ends with "Half Moon," featured on in a trio setting on Yamamoto's first CD, Up & Coming,
but beautifully performed solo here.
Yamamoto penned most of the songs on this exhilarating disc. Her compositional style augments her deft, inventive playing and fits her bandmates like a glove. The prospect of Eri Yamamoto getting better isn't just daunting, it's scary. But like boarding a rollercoaster, you look forward to the thrill.
This review originally appeared in All About Jazz-New York
Personnel: Eri Yamamoto (p), Alan Hampton (b), Ikuo Takeuchi (d).