Luxuriating: The Yuko Mabuchi Trio (2017)

Yuko Mabuchi TrioYuko Mabuchi takes command of both her instrument and the listener’s ears from the first stroke of the album’s opener, Cole Porter mainstay, “What Is This Thing Called Love” and through all eight live-recorded masterpiece tracks.  Produced by Randy Bellous… the live album is a must-own for piano trio aficionados and jazz lovers of all stripes.

A tremendous highlight of the album is… “On Green Dolphin Street.”  Pitched in Bill Evans’ preferred key of E-flat…. Dave Brubeck himself would have applauded the tight interplay of time between one half of the head, presented in a heavy ¾ that alternates sweetly with the straight ‘four-on-the-floor’ 4/4 of the next four bars of the same phrase….  Mabuchi, delicious bassist Del Atkins, and tasty drummer Bobby Breton make it new all over again….

Mabuchi’s right hand is the star of each of her solo flights.  Clean, precise, and crisp like forebears Teddy Wilson, Marian McPartland, and Tommy Flanagan, but deeply harmonically and rhythmically inspired like the mentioned Evans… she harbors a brilliant rainbow of many sensibilities in her performances, ranging from the suave coolness of a sultry vocalist, to the bold braggadocio of the brightest horn player….

Another track that I particularly enjoy is the shining “Jazz Medley”, which… expertly showcases Mabuchi’s unparalleled virtuosity, vast rhythmic vocabulary, and clever improvisational techniques.  Perhaps the best thing about this live recording is that I can also hear Mabuchi breathe, just like a horn instrumentalist, in true jazz conversation….

Kathryn Ballard Shut


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