Eri Yamamoto was headed for a career as a classical pianist until she fell under the spell of Tommy Flanagan and glided over to jazz. The Next Page delivers on all the refined, creative empathy promised in that backstory.
The 11 original compositions, cleaved by 60 seconds of silence (so you can avoid downloading “track” 7), are structured to simulate a pair of sets at Arthur’s Tavern in New York, where the trio has been playing two or three nights a week for the past 12 years. While the entire collection simultaneously stimulates and relaxes the listener — it is probably Yamamoto’s best disc to date — I prefer the front half, full of songs that allude to nature. Yamamoto has a gift for capturing the seamless, nuanced changes in the seasons, the sky, the landscape, and the beneficent balm of its consonance with the human spirit. There are the gentle crestings of “Whiskey River,” the slow dance of grays and blues in the quiet blues of “Night Shadows,” the marvel of reaching into massive evanescence so beautifully depicted on “Catch the Clouds.” And mention must be made of “Just Walking,” because Yamamoto uses David Ambrosio’s opening bass vamp to channel her inner Flanagan, beguiling with her graceful simplicity.