Eri Yamamoto: piano, compositions
David Ambrosio: bass
Ikuo Takeuchi: drums
Pianist-composer Eri Yamamoto returns anew (!) with another bountiful collection of her singular all-original music, performed with perennial trio partners of deep empathy, bassist David Ambrosio and drummer Ikuo Takeuchi. As the album title suggests, the material moves through a range of emotional evocation, from ebullient to thoughtfully introspective, reflecting the absolute vibrancy of her long-time adopted home of NYC, and the importance of finding space within the perpetual motion of the city for moments of reflection and meditation.
Eri’s gift for indelible melody remains a hallmark of her compositions; a dozen brand new songs are featured here, together with a pair of fresh takes on earlier songs which have been crowd favorites at performances. “You Are Welcome” originally appeared on her AUM Fidelity début, Duologue, and “Half Moon” on her second, self-released trio album, Three Feel.
Life is Eri Yamamoto’s 10th album release as a leader and also marked her 20th anniversary as a working jazz musician in New York City. It was here where she first had a revelatory experience while listening to the music, and moved from Japan to devote her life to jazz.
"4.5 Stars. In a way, the meeting between the quiet hometown [Kyoto] and the big city [NYC] is an apt metaphor for the music, which is like a cherry tree blossoming in the concrete of an urban environment. The album both captures the endless movement of a sea of people moving by, and the meditative moment where time just seems to stop and the awareness of nature becomes a sign of the gift that is life. Throughout the album, Takeuchi, Ambrosio and Yamamoto are in constant and close interaction and the sheer easiness and depth of their dialogue is a thing to treasure, like having a good talk with a friend about the joys and sorrows of a day gone by." –Jakob Baekgaard, All About Jazz
"This skillful, under-the-radar pianist is well deserving of greater attention, and her ace card is a sense of masterfully wielded drama that sets her apart from her peers." –The New Yorker
"Fantastic sounds from pianist Eri Yamamoto – a musician we've maybe not given proper due in previous years – but who really has us listening strongly again with her wonderful work on this record! There's a pointed, poetic quality to the performance – one that's underscored by some of Eri's notes on the tunes. The music is also never too lyrical for its own good, as Yamamoto always has this way of keeping an edge to her performance – a quality that knows the outside, and can reference it in a few simple flourishes, then bring things back into warmly swinging territory with her very well-matched trio members." –Dusty Groove
* Full art & notes included as PDF booklet with Digital Album.
She wears fancy hats on all studio album sleeves, and she includes an unusual and unexpected cover version of someone else's music on each album. This time, it's a famous piece written by John Williams for the 1984 Olympic Summer Games in Los Angeles. Awesome, and really hard to recognize! No less awesome are Miho Hazama's own compositions - always splendidly arranged, and with an ideal balance of composed vs. improvised parts. With this album, she confirms her membership in the league of the world's top-notch big band leaders and composers. Sven B. Schreiber