Review on June 2024 Issue

* 'Colors of the Night' was chosen for their Recommended New Release.

Although NYC-based Japanese pianist Eri Yamamoto often presents an elegant and soulful take on tradition via the medium of her songs, she is equally at home in the company of adventurers such as reedman/trumpeter Daniel Carter and bassist William Parker. Indeed, she can claim tenure in the latter’s Raining on the Moon ensemble ever since her appearance on 2008’s Corn Meal Dance (AUM Fidelity). She skillfully combines these two approaches of tradition and exploration on the pair of releases at hand, improvising freely without ever becoming unmoored for long from either melody or rhythm. The pianist showcases a special band on the 2022 live recording, Colors of the Night. Alongside drummer Ikuo Takeuchi, ever-present in her regular trio since its debut in 2001, she enlists Parker’s rock-solid yet wonderfully supple bass playing. On four freewheeling numbers, the pianist’s talent for crafting bittersweet tunes is well in evidence, most notably on the opening title track. She begins each cut with a similarly well-turned kernel before the three embark on a stream of engaging variations marked by their group-orientated focus and seamless dynamic shifts. Parker endlessly cycles through angular shapes, always seeming on the verge of pivoting into a deep groove, but never quite yielding to the temptation, while Takeuchi offers a pulsating but understated metric carpet that comments as much as it colors. Yamamoto’s alluring blues-infused figures periodically surface to ground the interplay throughout. On “Passion”, Parker’s muscular pizzicato motifs sculpt a superstructure around which the pianist places her forceful chording to dramatic effect, while the concluding “El Sol”, a bright yet wistful caper that first featured on her solo Yellow Flower (Blau Records), builds to a rhapsodic climax, one in no way diminished when the bassist unholsters his bow for some moaning lines that underscore the ambivalent feel.


Yamamoto also comprises one quarter of the co-operative Sparks Quartet, which is captured in full flow on Live at the Vision Festival XXVI. The outfit’s performance at the 2022 edition followed its debut (recorded the previous year) with an unchanged line up completed by Parker, Chad Fowler (reedman and Mahakala label boss) and Steve Hirsh (drums). On two cuts the foursome trades in an especially harmonious form of spontaneous interaction, Yamamoto noticeably enjoying a particular connection with both Parker and Fowler. Her naturally rhythmic style meshes well with the bassist’s effortlessly propulsive patterns, while Fowler often picks up and elaborates from the pianist’s phrases, whether in an enveloping vibrato or an emotion laden wail. Meanwhile, Hirsh avoids closing down any option with a multifaceted rattle, which is potent but never overbearing. As adept at off-the-cuff melody as the pianist, Fowler lends a ballad-like quality to the beginning of “Part One”, while on flute his atmospheric invocation opens “Part Two” into another spellbinding journey. Later in the same piece you can almost hear the real time negotiation, whether to prolong Yamamoto’s earthy lope or transition to something more fragmented and restless. The tension as the quartet moves back and forward between these two modes lay the process of creation bare.

 Interview by Polish Web Magazine, Soundrive 

  March 2023 

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. 

Jerome Wilson

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.

—Steve Futterman

JAZZIZ Magazine   

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

Best of 2019 by  January, 2020

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 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