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Friday, 19 July 2013 12:15

Charting the Music: Eri Yamamoto Trio, 'Firefly'

Charting the Music: Eri Yamamoto Trio, 'Firefly' / Elia Costa
Written by Travis Dettmann

Eri Yamamoto's first live recording is spectacular. As organic as concert recordings come, "Firefly" proves that the Eri Yamamoto Trio is the epitome of musicianship.

While it takes many artists multiple months to record an album, the Eri Yamamoto Trio only needed one full day. "Firefly" is a concoction of improvisation and structured measures, providing a safe cohesion of intelligent bits of free-form with the New York style of contemporary jazz.

88.1 KDHX chart position: #2 Jazz for the week of July 9, 2013.

Record label, release date and producer: AUM Fidelity released "Firefly" on June 11, 2013; it was produced by Eri Yamamoto, Steven Joerg and Ikuo Takeuchi.

Can be heard on: All Soul, No Borders with Josh Weinstein.

RIYL: Bill Dobbins, Helen Sung and the New Brubeck Quartet.

Hometown: Osaka, Japan.

Standout tracks: A lengthy cab ride in constant sheets of rain makes "Memory Dance" all too familiar. The bizarro "Everybody Loves Raymond" theme song, "Around on the Way," motions one to pop a fresh bottle of merlot. While "A Few Words" contains no lyrics, it is filled to the brim with improvised, sporadic drum patterns coolly cushioned by calm keys and double bass.

This artist/band: Eri Yamamoto began playing by the age of 3 and composed pieces by 8. In 1995, she moved to New York and devoted her life to jazz after a prior New York visit gave her the opportunity to see Tommy Flanagan perform. Her duo in rhythm consists of David Ambrosio on bass and Ikuo Takeuchi on drums. While Ambrosio has only filled bass duties for Yamamoto since 2006's "Cobalt Blue," Takeuchi has remained loyal since her 2001 debut, "Up and Coming."

This label: AUM Fidelity, an avant-garde jazz label located in Brooklyn, has flooded the jazz scene with releases ever since 1997. Label founder, Steve Joerg, began as a label manager for Homestead Records, which was responsible for releasing early Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth records in the 1980s. Having released various efforts by David S. Ware, Joe Morris and William Parker, AUM Fidelity is responsible for more than 70 albums in just a couple years shy of two decades.

About the album art: "Firefly" is New York delicately prancing on your eardrums. The aroma of stale tobacco faintly hits the nostrils as one plunges head first into 60 minutes of East-coast jazz. Leo Yamamoto is the city planner of the "Firefly" skyline. The cartoonish cityscape of the album art invites the listener to explore all possibilities, structured and improvised. While it is controlled and compact, one can feel its spaciousness and spontaneity.

Play it while: Late-night swimming through countless cocktails.

Did you know? In 1995, Yamamoto enrolled at the New School University for jazz, then obtained a master's of music in education and composition from Shiga University. She has collaborated with countless artists and can be heard on William Parker's "Luc's Lantern" and "Corn Meal Dance" from 2005 and 2007 respectively. She and her trio tour throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, doing both solo dates as well as festival spots.

What the critics say: "Eri Yamamoto is not as well known, but her trio with bassist David Ambrosio and drummer Ikuo Takeuchi 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 clichés. In that regard, it's hard to imagine a jazz trio with more magic at its fingertips." Will Layman, Pop Matters.

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