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The Multiple Musical Personalities of Eri Yamamoto

Tom Greenland By

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Eri Yamamoto
In Each Day, Something Good
AUM Fidelity

Eri Yamamoto, Whit Dickey, Daniel Carter
Not Two

Known locally for her decade-long residency at Arthur's Tavern in the West Village, Osaka-born, Kyoto-bred and New York-seasoned pianist Eri Yamamoto has become increasingly visible on the Eastside avant jazz scene. Two new releases document both sides of her musical personality.

In Each Day, Something Good, her sixth trio album, recorded with longtime working rhythm section bassist David Ambrosio and drummer Ikuo Takeuchi, is a mixture of original songs and a suite of pieces written to accompany Yasujiro Ozu's early silent film I Was Born, But.... Yamamoto's playing, unhurried and unforced, nevertheless demonstrates an active imagination and gift for melody; her improvisations avoid sweeping theatrical gestures in favor of focused introspection, in the spirit of someone who stops along the way to pore over the small details of everyday life that often elude those who hurry on. Displaying an intuitive rapport based on umpteen hours of on-the-job repartee, the trio recalls the close commerce and intimate atmosphere of Bill Evans' classic group, the musical equivalent of an isosceles triangle. Yamamoto's writing favors loping 5/4 'waltzes,' gospel-tinged harmonies and short, miniaturist themes. "A Little Escape" sounds like a folksy variant of Monk's "Misterioso"; "Blue in Tunisia" meditates on subtle shadings of C Major/minor while "I Was Born" is unabashed bop, featuring a fine piano solo in which Yamamoto's phrases seemly float over both beat and barlines.

Emergence is a collective outing with multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter and drummer Whit Dickey, both stalwarts of the freer fringes. Lacking a bassist, Yamamoto digs in with her left hand, filling out the low frequencies with rumbling lines, topped by high, chiming arpeggios. In this looser context, she flirts with tonality, moving harmonies up and down without quite reaching a cadence, ambiguous gestures that beg a response. Trading most of his time between trumpet and tenor, Carter is fairly restrained, leaving ample space, adding comments here and there, saving his most audacious blowing for "Last Taste" when, supported by a spiraling piano figure, his alto builds to a ferocious climax. Dickey strikes a balance between density and space, spreading hits across the kit, digging into faux hiphop grooves on "Get Up" and "Rocker" while merely implying the pulse on "Convection." A fine effort, the date exemplifies the art of collective on-the-spot decision making.

Tracks & Personnel

In Each Day, Something Good

Tracks: Attraction of the Moon; Secret Link; Every Day; We'll Figure Out Blues; Blue 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.


Tracks: Conversation; Get Up; Mobile; Convection; Rocker; Twirls; Last Taste; Plum Blossom.

Personnel: Eri Yamamoto: piano; Daniel Carter: reeds, trumpet, flute; Whit Dickey: drums.


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