"There have been countless jazz masses and gospel-jazz recordings, with some iconic and influential recordings among them including Mary Lou Williams' 'Black Christ of the Andes' (1963), Donald Byrd's 'A New Perspective' from 1964, Duke Ellington's 1965 'Sacred Music Concert', and Dave Brubeck's 'Truth is Fallen' from 1972, to name a few. Add to this prestigious legacy Eri Yamamoto's 'Goshu Ondo Suite' " Thom Jurek, Allmusic.com 4.5/5 Stars
GOSHU ONDO SUITE
Eri Yamamoto Trio & Choral Chameleon
Released by AUM Fidelity
From AUM Fidelity's website:
Eri Yamamoto transcended jazz, classical and folk forms in creating her new work : for jazz trio & 50-member choir. She has seamlessly melded biography, group improvisation and far-ranging compositional vocabularies in a momentous seven-part suite, featuring her longstanding trio in collaboration with New York-based Choral Chameleon, directed by its award-winning founder, Vince Peterson.
The suite is based off of the “Goshu Ondo,” a traditional circle dance song from Shiga, Japan, where it was sung during the summer Bon festival to warmly welcome ancestral spirits. Composing the Goshu Ondo Suite brought some of Yamamoto’s happiest childhood memories flooding back. The decision to compose for choir was sprung from a desire to bring community into the process of creation – to increase by a great amount the number of people involved in making & celebrating beautiful sound together! To evoke that joyful sense, her Trio & Choral Chameleon engaged in an intensive & committed rehearsal schedule, with the choir singing in Romaji transliteration of the Japanese text. Indeed every member of Choral Chameleon was so engaged with the process that they memorized the piece, performing the exultant November 2018 world premiere by (and with) great heart!
The suite commences with the folk song's melodic kernel from which the rest blooms. Choral Chameleon’s heterophony, polyphony and unison singing interweave with Yamamoto’s trio, often with gorgeous open vowels evocative of natural scenes in works ranging from Claude Debussy through Charles Ives to Duke Ellington. All is bolstered by gentle trio improvisation, Ambrosio and Takeuchi propelling the band forward and ultimately building to a life-affirming choral unison. The second and longest part, with its tempo, dynamic and metric shifts evolving as naturally as breathing, is the tree trunk, fostering development and setting the stage for the various branch movements to follow. All the while, that melodic seed, so deeply enmeshed in the compositional fabric, bears fruit of stunning variety and flavor.
As the final movement’s ecstatic and celebratory rhythms surge, crest and dissipate and the various musical threads converge, a sense of transcultural journey is palpable, of many and disparate experiences existing in luminous multi-communal nexus. The coda composition performed by the trio, “Echo of Echo”, provides a final moment of reflection, mirroring the suite’s ultimate descent toward silence; demonstrating, again, that the part is in the whole, which far exceeds the sum of its components.
MORE PRESS FOR 'GOSHU ONDO SUITE'
Radio play has included KCRW, BBC 6 Music, WorldwideFM, France Musique, SR2.de, WBGO, WKNC, WNUR, WPRB, WVUD, WXDU, KALX, KBGA, KGNU (AfterFM)
"The swooping voices of the choir, delivering the Japanese phrases in an exultant and life-giving manner over the powerful performance of the trio, brings to mind the work of Alice Coltrane, as well as Andrew Hill’s 1969 album Lift Every Voice. This is joyous music." Phil Freeman
Read the full review HERE
NEW YORK JAZZ RECORD
"Choral Chameleon’s polyphony, heterophony and unison singing provide an effervescent texture...A poetic evocation of a distinctly Japanese folk tradition, the Goshu Ondo Suite shimmers with elegance. As an homage to multiculturalism and the fertile ground folk traditions provide, the suite resonates outward from its simple, melodic beginnings to create an immersive, enriching experience, bound to lift the spirit as much as it will please the ears." Franz Matzner
Full review can be read in January 2020 Print Edition & Download
"To recall the festival’s feeling of communal joy, Yamamoto wrote full-voiced melodic lines for Choral Chameleon, a 50-person choir. Despite that heft, Yamamoto manages to maintain a balance between the vocals and the superbly refined sound of her trio. By the gospel-tinged finale, what’s left is a nimbly crafted rhapsody of East and West, jazz and folk, singer and player." Suzanne Lorge
Review can be read in January 2020 Edition
DAILY.BANDCAMP.COM - THE BEST JAZZ ON BANDCAMP - NOV 2019
"The choir’s harmonic contribution is like moonlight beaming down strong from above, while the jazz piano trio twinkle like stars all around. The massive changes in tone and temperament are like celestial events, and have that thrilling dual effect of instilling the sense of a scope beyond comprehension, and yet bringing a sense of connectedness to everything. This seven-part suite was recorded live, and transmits every bit of the electricity of a concert performance." Dave Sumner
"New York jazz pianist Eri Yamamoto's new venture, featuring..Choral Chameleon..is rather atypical; yet it spurs heavenly implications". "The Trio's jazzy hooks, swerving rock pulses and buoyant mode of attack is shaded with the vocalists' divine aura and jubilant chants". Glenn Astarita
Read the full review HERE
"Goshu Ondo Suite took Yamamoto three months to compose. It features her alongside bassist David Ambrosio and drummer Ikuo Takeuchi, and is enriched by the presence of the award-winning New York-based choir, Choral Chameleon, led by founder/director Vince Peterson, who expressed via a press release that he was fascinated by the concept of commemorating “the dead with joy” via this project."
One of the most beautiful albums we've ever heard from pianist Eri Yamamoto – in large part because of the presence of the Choral Cameleon vocal group! The mix of piano and voice is wonderful – haunting and powerful, in a way that reminds us of some of the best Vince Guaraldi experiments of this type – but with a sharper edge, as you might guess from the piano of Yamamoto – and support from David Ambrosio on bass and Ikuo Takeuchi on drums! Sometimes the voices rise high and proud – as in a Max Roach jazz-with-voices album – other times they drift dreamily, providing more of a subtle ascendant current to the lines of the piano. Either way is great to our ears – a really wonderful record.
DOWNTOWN MUSIC GALLERY
Organic, righteous, touching, heart-felt, warm, consistently charming! We can tell that Ms. Yamamoto’s heart and soul are at the center of this music. Want to feel better? This disc is just what the good doctor ordered". Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Downtown Music Gallery