Although traditional folk songs have been a favorite source for classical composers from Brahms to Bartók, they don’t have a corresponding place in the jazz canon. And that’s a pity, as pianist and composer Eri Yamamoto makes plain with her Goshu Ondo Suite.
Composed for choir and jazz trio, it’s based around a traditional circle-dance song that’s performed at festivals in the Shiga prefecture of Japan. Typically, “Goshu Ondo” is performed in a call-and-response format, with a leader singing the main lyrics and the crowd answering key lines. Although shamisen (or, these days, electric guitar) is often used for accompaniment, the main interplay is between the voices and taiko drums.