Eri Yamamoto  

Jazz Pianist / Composer

Eri Yamamoto, Jazz Pianist/Composer


Since moving to the United States in 1995, Eri Yamamoto has established herself as one of jazz's most original and compelling pianists and composers. Jazz legend Herbie Hancock has said, “My hat’s off to her... already she’s found her own voice.”


During the past twenty-seven years, Eri has been sharing her uniquely lyrical and evocative music with listeners in New York City, throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan, Africa, Jamaica, and Australia; with appearances in concerts, clubs, and major festivals.


A Woman With A Purple Wig is Eri’s new release, and her fourteenth as a leader. This powerful music came out of her experiences as an Asian woman living in New York City during the pandemic. She felt compelled to write lyrics and sing for the first time. The New Yorker writes: “Purposeful songs….address racial and sexual discrimination, yet also step back to celebrate simple joys. Colors are Beautiful is as affirming as the title track is critical.” Filmmaker Aleksandra Szczepanowska was moved to create music videos of both songs. "A Woman With a Purple Wig," recently won the prize for best music video at the prestigious Big Apple Film Festival, Spring 2023.


Downbeat magazine gave four stars to Eri’s previous release, Firefly, saying: “Her CD reaffirms Yamamoto’s standing as a contemporary pianist of the highest order. Her virtuosity never gets in the way of playing it straight from the heart.”


Eri has also been dedicated to the art of solo piano, moving audiences with her renditions of her own compositions and her spontaneous improvisations. Her most recent release, Yellow Flower, covers a wide range of images and experiences. It is her second solo piano album, following her 2017 Live at Benicassim.  

Eri recently put together a new group, “Colors or the Night,” with long-time collaborators William Parker and Ikuo Takeuchi on bass and drums. Their new CD on Mahakala Records captures their rapport as they improvise openly and freely on Eri’s set of original songs.


Eri was born in Osaka, Japan. She began playing classical piano at age three, and started composing at eight. In 1995, she visited New York for the first time, and was so inspired by a performance by pianist Tommy Flanagan that she decided to move to New York to study jazz. She entered the New School University's prestigious jazz program, where she studied with Reggie Workman, Junior Mance, and LeeAnn Ledgerwood.


While in school, Eri started playing at the Avenue B Social Club in the East Village; and in 1998 her trio began a twenty-year engagement at the historic Arthur’s Tavern in Greenwich Village.


Eri has also been collaborating with such creative and celebrated musicians as William Parker, Daniel Carter, Hamid Drake, Federico Ughi, Yves Leveille and Paul McCandless. Eri has appeared on several William Parker recordings, and has performed in the U.S. and throughout the world with his groups.


Finally, Eri is a gifted educator. She received her master of music in education and composition from Shiga University, Japan. She has taught private lessons and workshops to jazz musicians of all instruments from the U. S., Japan, Europe, and North Africa.

Eri Yamamoto, Discography

As a Leader: 

Colors of the Night    2023 / Mahakala Music / MAHA063

A Woman With A Purple Wig   2022 / Mahakala Music / MAHA035 

Yellow Flower             2022 / Blau Records  / BLAU036

Goshu Ondo Suite     2019 / AUM Fidelity / AUM112

Live in Benicàssim   2017 / Blau Records / BLAU017

Life                                  2016 AUM Fidelity / AUM099 

Firefly                            2013 AUM Fidelity / AUM079 

The Next Page           2012 AUM Fidelity / AUM071 

In Each Day, Something Good    2010 AUM Fidelity / AUM059 

Redwoods                    2008 AUM Fidelity / AUM049 

Duologue                     2008 AUM Fidelity / AUM048

Cobalt Blue                 2006 Thirsty Ear / THI 57170.2 

Colors                           2004 Jane Street Records / JSR 003 

Three Feel                  2002 Jane Street Records / JSR 002 

Up & Coming             2001 Jane Street Records / JSR 001 

As a Co- Leader: 

Live at Vision Festival XXVI   2023 / Mahakala Music  

w/ Chad Fowler, William Parker, Steve Hirsh

Sparks     2021 / Mahakala Music  w/ Chad Fowler, William Parker, Steve Hirsh

As a Side player: 

Migration of Silence Into and Out of The Tone World   

w/ William Parker / Centering Records 2021

The Blinking of the Ear     

w/ William Parker / AUM Fidelity 2018

Voice Fall from the Sky     

w/ William Parker / AUM Fidelity 2018

Great Spirit                             

Septet w/ William Parker / AUM Fidelity 2016 

For Those Who are, Still   

w/ William Parke/ AUM Fidelity 2015 

Before the Songs                  

Quartet w/ Federico Ughi / Skycap 2015 

Wood Flute Songs               

w/ William Parker / AUM Fidelity 2013 

Songs for Four Cities         

Quartet w/ Federico Ughi / Skycap 2012 

Pianos Duo                            

w/Yves Leveille / Effendi Records 2010 


Trio w/ Whit Dicky / Not Two Records 2009 

Corn Meal Dance                 

Septet w/ William Parker / AUM Fidelity 2008 

Luc's Lantern                

Trio w/ William Parker / Thirsty Ear 2005

    Critics’ Quotes      

Quotes to download 

“My hat’s off to her. She’s found her own voice.”

ーHerbie Hancock, Jazz Master



"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



“Purposeful songs….address racial and sexual discrimination, yet also step back to celebrate simple joys.  Colors are Beautiful is as affirming as the title track [A Woman With A Purple Wig] is critical.”

-Steve Futterman, The New Yorker

"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



"[Her] trio has been together almost 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 many jazz cliche´s. It’s hard to imagine a jazz trio with more magic at its fingertips."

-Will Layman, PopMatters



"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 13 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



"Eri Yamamoto, who gracefully bridges the worlds of postbop and free jazz, surveys her warm, evocative songs without words in the company of bassist Dave Ambrosio and drummer Ikuo Takeuchi on Firefly, her typically elegant and understated new full-length." 

-Time Out New York


click on an image to enlarge

All photos 

by Jimmy Katz 

unless noted.

Eri Yamamoto Trio

(right) David Ambrosio, bass

(left) Ikuo Takeuchi, drums

photo by RY

photo by RY