Up & Coming
Since moving to New York in 1995, Eri Yamamoto has established herself as one of the city's most original and compelling pianists and composers. Jazz legend Herbie Hancock has said, "My hat's off to her... already she's found her own voice." The Eri Yamamoto has built a strong following with frequent appearances around New York, and has toured the US, UK and Japan. She has released four critically acclaimed CD's, most recently "Cobalt Blue" on the Thirsty Ear label. Since 2000, Eri's trio with bassist David Ambrosio and drummer Ikuo Takeuchi has been appearing regularly at Arthur's Tavern, a historic jazz club in New York's Greenwich Village. The Trio has also appeared at several international festivals and concert halls, including Cheltenham, UK; Cardiff, Wales, and throughout her native Japan. Eri appeared as a featured soloist at the Jazz on Rafale concert series in Montreal and as a member of William Parker's Sextet at the Roccella Jazz Festival in Italy. She recently toured Holland and Italy with William Parker and Hamid Drake, she also toured Wales; UK and 20 cities in Japan with her own trio. Eri was born in Osaka, Japan, and began playing classical piano at age three. She started writing music when only eight years old, and studied voice, viola, and composition through her high school and college years. In 1995, she visited New York for the first time, and by chance heard Tommy Flanagan performing. It was her first experience of a jazz piano trio, and she was so inspired that she decided on the spot that she would move to New York City and dedicate herself to this music. Later that year, Eri entered the New School University's prestigious jazz program, where she studied with Junior Mance, LeeAnn Ledgerwood, and Reggie Workman. While still in school, she played many gigs around New York. In 1999 she started playing regularly at the Avenue B Social Club, a popular spot among jazz musicians in the East Village. There she developed a musical friendship with fellow pianist Matthew Shipp. She has been performing regularly with William Parker and Daniel Carter, and appears on Parker's trio CD, "Luc's Lantern," for which she has been favorably singled out in many reviews, and his new sextet CD, "Cornmeal Dance." She has also worked with such musical luminaries as Ron McClure, Andy McKee, Lewis Barns, Rob Brown, Leena Conquest, Federico Ughi, Arthur Kell, Kevin Tkacz, Christopher Dean Sullivan and Michael T. A.Thompson. CD REVIEW Eri Yamamoto Trio Up&Coming (Jane Street) 'How long does it take to become a great jazz musician? Would you believe five and a half years? That would seem to be the case with Eri Yamamoto who abandoned a budding classical career half a decade ago to pursue jazz studies at the New School. Yamamoto had no jazz background whatsoever when she arrived in New York from Kyoto-something I can personally attest to, having heard her stumble through standards some years back at the Loisaida bar that is now Manitoba's. Saloon din tended to drown out Yamamoto's trio until she started pulling out her originals, the attentive silence that greeted them clued me in that fresh ideas were on the way. Yamamoto's maturity is instantly evidence on the title cut/opener of 'UP&COMING,'her self-produced debut. The deceptively simple melody line demands perfect timing, and Yamamoto raises the degree of difficulty by upending it with a bridge in modified waltz-time. The way this impacts her solo is particularly breathtaking: On one chorus, she applies single-note lines reminiscent of Lennie Tristano; next, she alternates running trills with off-kilter phrases; and finally - just before a bass solo by John Graham Davis - she slides back and forth across drummer Ikuo Takeuchi's supple pulse. And yet that's only a small sampling of the pianist's breadth and economy. The five originals included here are demonstrate an extraordinarily rich compositional sensibility - to say nothing of a delicate touch - and what's most impressive is how they outpace Yamamoto's takes on classics like Miles Davis's 'ALL BLUES' and Vincent Youman's 'WITHOUT A SONG.' I haven't caught Yamamoto's trio since it took up residence in the Village at Arthur's Tavern two years ago, but if the album is any indication, the time she's spent at the rambunctious watering hole has taught her hoe familiarity combined with subtlety can move a crowd. That understanding is crucial for any musician hoping to become a great player as quickly as she has.' K. Leander Williams (Music Writer) Time Out, NY Magazine 8/2/2001 Single File: Eri Yamamoto Trio 'Half Moon'(Jane Street) '(After reading liner notes) From these notes, it almost sounds like she had no jazz training before she came here. How is that possible?!? Wow. I don't know anyone could get to this level in such a short period of time, but me hat's off to her. It certainly took me longer than that. This is her tune, so that means she can write, too. This is just the beginning, and already she's found her own voice.' Herbie Hancock Time Out, NY Magazine 9/27/2001.