Eri Yamamoto, 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 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.