Interview by Polish Web Magazine, Soundrive
All About Jazz
4 Star Review of the album "A Woman With A Purple Wig" January 2023
Pianist Eri Yamamoto was born and raised in Japan, but she has been a resident of New York City for over twenty years. She was there in March 2020 when COVID-19 shut down the world and then-President Trump began to call the disease a "Chinese flu." One day, while waiting to start an outdoor concert, she was confronted by a stranger who knocked off her hat, stepped on the electric keyboard she was carrying and called her one of the "(bleeping) Chinese" who had "messed up the world."
She played her concert that day but became so traumatized by the incident that for two years she only went out once a month. When she did, she used a face mask, sunglasses, a hat, and a purple wig to completely conceal her Asian identity. That experience is the story behind the title track of this album. Yamamoto sings in a disarmingly natural voice about buying the wig and how her disguise gave her a feeling of invisibility and safety as her trio's music sways along in an impishly tumbling swing behind her. She sounds vulnerable but at the same time, strong and defiant, feelings summed up in the way she sings the words of the chorus: "I'm just a woman. / Don't hurt me. / Don't hurt me."
Yamamoto also sings on one other track of the album, "Colors Are Beautiful." On the surface, this is a quietly dignified song about the range of colors found in nature, but it easily could mean the beauty of the different skin colors and races found in this world. The other five tracks here are instrumentals, capturing the intricate interplay between the leader's piano and the work of the other long-time members of her trio, bassist David Ambrosio and drummer Ikuo Takeuchi. They softly roll together like a Paul Bley trio on the elastic rustle of "Sounds of Peace," and playfully skip around like one of Ahmad Jamal's groups on "Shout." On "Internal Beat" the swaying rumble of Ambrosio's bass and the restless pattering of Takeuchi's drums make a fine backdrop that allows Yamamoto to fly about and swirl through variations on a fragment of Charles Mingus' "Haitian Fight Song."
The entire album is excellent with the trio in superb form but what lingers in the mind here is the unguarded honesty and determined calm of Eri Yamamoto's voice as she sings the title song, a moving rebuttal to the anger and strife of recent years. This album is something special, the finest work of her career to date.
The New Yorker Magazine
Review of the album "A Woman With A Purple Wig" November 2022
-Eri Yamamoto Trio-
A gifted musician can make her instrument sing, but there can come a time when only the human voice does the trick. Several albums into her tenure as the leader of her noteworthy trio, Eri Yamamoto, a pianist and a composer of uncommon finesse, has started to vocalize. Purposeful songs on her new album, “ A Woman With A Purple Wig,” address racial and sexual discrimination, yet also step back to celebrate simple joy—the guileless “Colors Are Beautiful” is as affirming as the title track is critical. Yamamoto and her group, which features the bassist David Ambrosio and the drummer Ikuo Takeuchi, bring her personal message to a blooming Bedford-Stuyvesant club, followed by sets at the recently rejuvenated Arthur’s Tavern, in the West Village.
Review of the album "A Woman With A Purple Wig" November, 2022
Pianist/composer Eri Yamamoto shares her experience of life in locked-down New York City following the onset of COVID-19 via seven new, heartfelt original compositions. A Woman With a Purple Wig is also her seventh album with her longstanding trio featuring bassist David Ambrosio and drummer Ikuo Takeuchi.
The New York City Jazz Record Magazine
Review of the album "A Woman With A Purple Wig" October, 2022
4 Star DownBeat Review of the album "Goshu Ondo Suite" January, 2020
Best Releases of 2019 by All About Jazz, December, 2019
4 Star All About Jazz Review of the album, Goshu Ondo Suite December, 2019
4.5 Star All Music review of the album, Goshu Ondo Suite November, 2019
Yomiuri Newspaper in Shiga, Japan November, 2019
Chu-Nichi Newspaper in Japan September, 2019
Review of Goshu Ondo Suite performance
Trio with Coro Easo at San Sebastian Jazz Festival
El Diario Vasco, Spain, July, 2019
Hot House Jazz Magazine -Cover & Artist Feature- November 2018
The New York Jazz City Record newspaper - Artist Feature- November, 2018
Kyoto Newspaper August, 2018
El Correo Newspaper in Valencia, Spain March, 2017
New York Jazz Record magazine in September, 2016
Hot House magazine September, 2016
November 8th, 2013
The Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper in Australia, November 8, 2013
Splashes of colour and sparse lines that thrill by John Shand One of the things that jazz does better than most music - and music does better than most arts - is to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable. Take Eri Yamamoto's piano playing. Without hearing her, you would not credit that her improbable combination of elegance and feistiness could be intertwined into an aesthetic and emotional whole. One that has no name.
The New York-based Japanese artist is headlining the second incarnation of the Sydney International Women's Jazz Festival, leading her long-term trio with bassist David Ambrosio and drummer Ikue Takeuchi. They almost exclusively played Yamamoto's compositions, often infusing them with an intriguing rhythmic ambiguity, as on the opening Bumpy Trail.
Yamamoto quoted a delicate Japanese folk song as a preamble to Firefly, a lyrical piece that grew in intensity until soul-like motifs reeled and staggered from the keyboard against the turbulent rhythm section.
As good as the band was when the music was energised, it was even better when painting sparse, telling lines and sudden splashes of colour on a silent canvas. This happened on the other-worldly denouement to Dark Blue Sky, which had begun with a solo bass introduction of slurring glissandi and non-threatening growls interspersed with snatches of simple melody. It recurred on Memory Dance, with its minimal statement of a groove and ephemeral sense of beauty. Another example was A Few Words, where Takeuchi's brushes cross-hatched shadows and created subtle emphases. Ambrosio was superb, with a freewheeling approach that could imply a groove when the music was at its gentlest,
and that could build an intoxicating looseness into any grooves that did emerge. His solos were highlights, but sometimes compromised by overly strident accompaniment from Takeuchi. If Yamamoto could thrill and beguile, she could also meander on occasion. But then her gorgeous touch was soon deployed to restore focus and cohesion.
Downbeat Magazine September 2013 issue
All About Jazz
online magazine, April 2012
"The Next Page" Review by John Sharpe
New York City Jazz Record
Magazine April 2012 issue
"The Next Page"
Review by Terrell Holmes
emusic.com April, 2012
"The Next Page" Review by Britt Robson
Jazz Time Magazine
May 2012 issue
"The Next Page" Review
Time Out New York Magazine, April 2012 issue Live Preview
New York Hot House Jazz Magazine, April 2012 issue