Eri Yamamoto benefits again from her association with bassist William Parker and his circle of friends. The Japanese pianist has performed with Parker’s groups and recorded under her own name, and you get the feeling that it won’t be long before she gets some name recognition. Her style certainly compels: She blends her classical training with her obvious love of both free jazz and traditional jazz. On her new album, Duologue, she spreads her wings a bit further. The disc is a series of eight duets: two each with Parker, saxophonist Daniel Carter, and drummers Federico Ughi and Hamid Drake (who plays frame drum only).
It’s not easy to pin Yamamoto down. She’s a bit of shape-shifter, and she adjusts to her partner. Her classical background comes through crystal clear on the serious, respectful “Conversation,” with Carter on alto sax, while “Subway Song,” a duet with Parker, finds her in an ebullient mood, riffing on the hot and stride styles of the early 20th century. “Violet Sky” is a pastoral piece in the great tradition of tenor sax/piano duets, and “Midtown Blues” is a fast rumbler that has Yamamoto and Drake trying to keep up with each other. Yamamoto and Parker play dreamily on “Muse,” a ballad with a pretty melody, and then she and Ughi close things out with some ecstatic high-stepping on “You Are Welcome.” Yes, thank you, Eri.