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05/14/12

Eri Yamamoto Trio
The Next Page
AUM Fidelity

Though recorded in a Brooklyn studio, the Eri Yamamoto Trio’s latest release is intended to approximate as closely as possible a live nightclub performance. How closely? The disc’s seventh track consists only of 60 seconds of silence, a pseudo-intermission dividing the date into two 30-minute halves. (And depending on the distance from your stereo to your refrigerator, allowing the listener to play along by grabbing a drink between sets.)

The sequencing follows the same instinct, the first half-dozen tracks being the disc’s quietest, most introspective pieces, while the “late-night set” of the second half ramps up the pace and energy a bit. Still, regardless of how they may react to actual cheering audiences, Yamamoto and her bandmates maintain a relatively subdued atmosphere, focusing on the subtle dynamics of their comfortable interplay.

All but one of the 11 pieces was penned by the leader, and the Osaka-born pianist is a strong proponent of song form. Opener “Sparkle Song” and “Dark Blue Sky” both center around melodies with the direct simplicity of folk tunes, while pieces like the lyrical “Whiskey River” and the gospel-accented “Green Grows” are unadorned pop tunes that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Bruce Hornsby album.

Drummer Ikuo Takeuchi contributes one piece, the tidally kinetic “Up and Down,” which opens the second set with appropriate vigor. But he and bassist David Ambrosio are both integral components of the trio, nurturing Yamamoto’s compositions with gentle washes of color and an intuitive understanding of their languid unfolding.

Originally published in May 2012
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