That pianist Eri Yamamoto brings her feminine instinct to her music crosses a threshold to all living things. It is often women who can fly the Homeric banners to pass down the stories of caring and hardship, attention and vigilance. Known for her work with groups formed by William Parker, who is one of the greatest musical storytellers of this era, and more recently for her highly acclaimed Duologue (AUM Fidelity Records, 2008), she has released another recording in a trio setting this time, entitled Redwoods.
Yamamoto's gender-ridden cast over her music begins with its earthy rootedness, her perception of the signs of life, and how they transform, how the grandeur impresses, or the delicacy of their transience abounds. She catches life's flow within the dynamic tone, and tempo of the phrasing of her piano playing; the eloquence of the bass and drums connect easily to and reflect Yamamoto's pianistic character.
The piano playing transmits an irrevocable spiritedness, even though it is weighty in bass chords; perhaps the bass lends seriousness to the tonalities. Frequent trills ("Bottled Water Princess"), Yamamoto's wonderful signature ostinato, occasional treble landings, slurs and upended rhythmic sensibilities, double-handed synchrony and an overall innocence ("This Is An Apple," "Wonder Land") establish the rich and wholesome language with which Yamamoto works. Even dissonance has a place as her fingers clip along the keyboard. She plots the extent of her sound palette smoothly (paradoxically in the piece titled "Bumpy Trail"); rarely does a jagged edge creep in. Yamamoto displays a never-ending insistence to pull heartstrings, carefully washing her tunes in a minor key ("This Is An Apple," "Dear Friends," "Magnolia") to leave behind a yearning for the shade from the hot sun or the sweet aroma of flowering trees.
The rhythm section responds directly to how Yamamoto's fingers land. Sometimes David Ambrosio's pizzicatos fall right in line with the piano sound so as to magnify and make more resonant the bass tones; he also has a knack for beautifully stepping through the hiatuses between phrases in the piano's structured movement ("Bumpy Trail," "Redwoods") or portraying an irrefutably, exquisitely solid stance ("Story Teller") like a partner would behave lovingly with a mate. Throughout the entire record, Ikuo Takeuchi's drumming is no less embracing than the music he balances with gentle brushstrokes on the snare or light touches on the cymbals; even in the spryest and bouncy "Wonderland," Takeuchi freely snaps at his kit, making the softest drum skin contact. Occasionally, the sticks come out in march-like motion ("Bumpy Trails," "Bottled Water Princess"); the drummer retains a valiant restraint which is complemented by strikes at the cymbals that open in full sibilance or recoil in a damped hush ("Bottled Water Princess").
This recording transforms the limits of its inherent physicality into divine energy. The musical purity of Redwoods jettisons Yamamoto's compositions into a space of eternal sound memory without which life would mean nothing for some, hopefully, for many.
This Is An Apple; Wonder Land; Bumpy Trail; Redwoods; Bottled Water Princess; Magnolia; Story Teller; Dear Friends.
Eri Yamamoto: piano; David Ambrosio: bass; Ikuo Takeuchi: drums.
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