Yuko Mabuchi Trio: Some Standards and some nice surprises
This live recording starts with What Is This Thing Called Love and Yuko’s playing, along with Bobby’s drum solo, immediately engages the audience. Throughout the album, Yuko is very sensitive and lyrical in her playing and does not go for bombast unless the music demands. When it does though, like in Sona’s Song (a composition of her own), we are in for a real treat: a very intense outburst erupts, breaking a simple delicate melody. Del Atkins and Bobby Breton are supportive in their playing, with… well executed solos. The musical rapport among them is evident in Seriously, in which the ornamented piano playing is executed over a repetitive and rhythmic bass – roles are switched for a moment and the transitions sound very fluid.
Other highlights include a Japanese medley that goes from delicate to psychedelic (!) to spirited, and the Latin rhythm St. Thomas that concludes the show. In the latter, we get the piano instead of the usual sax and Yuko does complete justice to the tune.
Recorded at the intimate Cammilleri Hall at USC – a venue where Yarlung’s engineers have expertise in recording – the sound is natural and detailed. The album features a particularly impressive soundstage and ambiance. Audience noise is negligible, except for resounding and resonant applause at appropriate moments. Yarlung’s engineers have succeeded in putting us in the first row.