Wednesday, July 16, 2008

All-Star Duologue

Last night witnessed the final All-Star game to be played in Yankee Stadium, which made the full house that turned out for Eri Yamamoto at the Cornelia Street Café all the more impressive. As it turns out, even those of us who stayed for both thoroughly impressive sets were still able to be home in time to see more than enough baseball. Celebrating the release of her new CD Duologues, Yamamoto and her duo partners for the evening, Daniel Carter and William Parker, put on the better show, by far.

There are plenty of talented jazz pianists in the City, but while they might sound quite nice, I could never recognize them blindfolded. However, I am pretty certain I would know Eri Yamamoto’s playing by ear. She really has honed an individual sound all her own, which is why I frequently hear her with her regular trio at Arthur’s Tavern. While it is almost impossible to describe the intangibles of style, Eri’s strong rhythmic drive and shrewd sense of humor are certainly important elements of her distinctive sound.

Starting with the beauty and elegant simplicity of “Thank You” and concluding with the wit and verve of “You are Welcome,” Duologue is an eloquent series of friendly conversations between the leader, Carter, Parker, and percussionists Hamid Drake and Federico Ughi. In between, she takes us through a variety of moods, with the hypnotic “Circular Motion,” the sensitive meditation “Muse,” and the rambunctious, slightly Monkish “Subway Song,” which she and Parker reprised at Cornelia Street.

Duologue is an excellent new release, showcasing both Yamamoto’s continually inventive playing and her intriguing compositions. It seems like she writes constantly, often inspired by her international tours, with new songs frequently making their debut at Arthur’s.

I recommend picking-up Duologue and when in the City, checking out Eri Yamamoto in her usual trio format at Arthur’s, every Thursday through Saturday, when she is in town. Also note, for those bold enough to venture into BKLN, her regular bassist Kevin Tkacz will lead his own group at Barbès on July 29th to mark the release of his own forthcoming CD.