Joh Yamada Bluestone
JazzTimes: "...Yamada wails with heart on sleeve....an impressive leader debut..."
- Released: August 24, 1999
- Originally Released: 1999
- Label: Milestone
JazzTimes - 10/00, pp.102-3"...Yamada wails with heart on sleeve....an impressive leader debut..."
- 1.First Step
- 3.Rue De La Harpe
- 4.Smokin' Joh
- 5.Never Let Me Go
- 6.The Sacred Eyes
- 7.I've Never Been In Love Before
- 8.(I Don't Stand A) Ghost Of A Chance
Personnel: Joh Yamada (alto saxophone); Cyrus Chestnut (piano); Rodney Whitaker (bass); Clarence Penn (drums).
Recorded at Clinton Recording Studio, New York, New York on March 20 & 21, 1997. Includes liner notes by Satoshi Hirano & Todd Barkan.
Originally on Alfa Jazz in Japan, alto saxophonist Joh Yamada's debut is now in domestic trim. He's a true synthesis of his influences, mainly Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt, but with noticeable traces of Cannonball Adderley and Phil Woods. He has a patient way of constructing solos, and does not rush melody lines. He's joined by a flawless rhythm section which greatly enhances this date -- pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Rodney Whitaker, and drummer Clarence Penn. Yamada is comfortable with such uptempo numbers as Sahib Shihab's "Rue de la Harpe," where he displays a liquid feel for phrasing, occasionally blowing upper register flourishes. Of the three originals penned by the leader, "The Sacred Eyes" is a memorable hard bopper, "First Step" a hip, bluesy, midtempo swinger buoyed by Whitaker's two-note ostinato pontoons and Chestnut's chordal modalities, while the title cut is a tick-tock slow, lugubrious piece that refuses domination. Chestnut wrote "Smokin' Joe," which is blues-filled smoky and more smolderingly slow than burning hot. The three standards are low key; "I've Never Been in Love Before" is a nine-plus-minute easy swinger, and ballads "Never Let Me Go" and "Ghost of a Chance" let Chestnut and the trio unfold inherent beauty while Yamada admiringly dashes off musical sentences of love and regret. As young as he is, it's not difficult to hear that Yamada is a bit predictable. But patience is a virtue, and his playing displays that a hundredfold. The next ten years should reveal a most engaging new alto voice, one desperately needed in modern jazz. ~ Michael G. Nastos
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