Cobalt blue is my favorite color. The color is penetrating, soft and stunning at the same time. The intensity of the color lets a little go a long way. Cobalt Blue is a fitting name for the new release in the Blue Series on Thirsty Ear by pianist, Eri Yamamoto. Bassist David Ambrosio and drummer Ikuo Takeuchi elucidate and underscore Yamamoto’s musical purpose.
An overriding principle of Yamamoto’s music is the ostinato. The ostinato, as far as I am concerned, is one of the most powerful motifs in music. The way ostinatos function within her improvisation is vital to the quality of the musical statement. How far she pushes the ostinatos determines the level of satisfaction in the listener. For this listener, satisfaction is guaranteed.
Yamamoto’s elegant compositions surround you and stroke your every need. Her playing concentrates somewhat on the chord and taking the chord apart. The results are broad, carefully elongated, round and supple convolutions which elicit a call for more. The day I wrote this article, it happened to be raining steadily. The music suited the atmosphere, lifted the dampness from the air and replaced it with a blanket of comfort and warmth. It is a nice surprise to hear a couple of standards midst original tunes. Hearing Cole Porter and George Gershwin does not determine the success of the entire recording, however.
The straightforward formality of Yamamoto’s playing emphasizes the underlying subtlety of the lines. The bass and the drums complement and expand these lines to provide a perfect balance in the space which Yamamoto yields. The bass lends a heavy deep pizzicato voice and the drums a light loose texture. Yamamoto’s strong left hand establishes a rhythm within the piano alone that allows her to glide along the keyboard effortlessly with the right, making melodies that take flight in uncomplicated runs and end simply with a trill or a single unperturbed note.
Yamamoto is not in a hurry to convey her musical notions. She derives a quiet pleasure from what she does. And that pleasure translates to the listener one phrase at a time.
The CD release date is July 18th, 2006.