Eri Yamamoto: piano, compositions
David Ambrosio: bass
Ikuo Takeuchi: drums
The deeply lyrical and remarkably prolific pianist/composer Eri Yamamoto returned quickly to record with Firefly, another all-new collection of wholly original songs; this time performed live in intimate concert with her decade-long devoted trio. Following so rapidly on their previous acclaimed album, The Next Page (itself following In Each Day, Something Good and Redwoods), Yamamoto’s consistently luminous writing and the trio’s telepathic performances thereof, is at this point astonishing.
"4-Stars. Firefly reaffirms Yamamoto's standing as a contemporary pianist of the highest order. While she has a deft sense of harmony and note selection, not to mention sheer chops, her virtuosity never gets in the way of playing it straight from the heart."
–Daniel A. Brown, DownBeat
"Her trio has been together for over a decade and has levels of telepathy that are enviable. This is a band that consistently generates a sound of joy without falling back on jazz clichés. It’s hard to imagine a jazz trio with more magic at its fingertips."
–Will Layman, PopMatters
"Yamamoto’s insistent rhythmic savvy is allied to a deep soulfulness. Bassist David Ambrosio once again demonstrates his keen melodic sensibility and propensity for surefooted commentary, while drummer Ikuo Takeuchi combines invention and drive into one elegant package." –John Sharpe, The New York City Jazz Record
"There are virtues in Yamamoto’s music that are rarely heard elsewhere. One is the depth of rapport with a rhythm section that has gigged with her regularly for over 10 years, making whole a steady stream of new compositions from her prolific muse. Another is Yamamoto’s ability to evoke ephemeral feelings and concepts with such precise intonation."
–Britt Robson, JazzTimes
This is Eri Yamamoto’s first-ever live album, recorded late December 2012 in intimate concert at the piano showroom Klavierhaus, NYC by renowned jazz photographer and recording engineer Jimmy Katz. Communion with the audience suffuses the performances, and the band stretches out accordingly. Eri’s improvisations dive into and float atop the essence of her melodies and the rhythm of a larger collective heartbeat.
Noting just a few highlights of this well-compelling program:
Hearkening back to childhood memories of catching fireflies with her grandfather, the title track opens with the Japanese folk song which they used to sing together while doing so. “Memory Dance” is profoundly beautiful and among the most moving songs written/performed in memory of fallen friends that we’ve ever heard. “Real Story” is a pedal-point gear-shifter, authoritatively driving and transporting. The importance of family, sense of place, and yes, fireflies, is reflected in the cover art by Eri’s nephew Leo Yamamoto. We’d like to make special note that her gifted young nephew has painted the cover artwork for each of Eri’s Trio albums on AUM Fidelity. –SJ
Eri writes in her liner notes on “Memory Dance”:
“This is a happy song. One of my dear friends, Charlie, loved jazz, and in New York City you could find him almost anywhere that the music was played. He was so open to all styles; many musicians knew him. He passed away early last year; I was shocked when I heard the news, and couldn’t digest it. A few weeks later, on a night off from performing, I had a glass of wine by the window in my apartment. I thought about him and felt so sad. Then I closed my eyes and suddenly he was first in a line of all my friends and relatives who had passed. They were all dancing and circling around me. All of them were smiling, and I felt that they were cheering me up. So I opened my eyes, went to the piano, and wrote down the music they were dancing to.”
* Full art & notes included as PDF booklet with Digital Album.