Yuka Yanagihara Trio: Inner Views
Pianist Yuka Yanagihara’s second piano trio album is Inner Views from 2019, where she plays eight of her original songs in a piano trio format with bassist Yoshiki Yamada and drummer Ryo Noritake. In harmony with the album’s title and cover image, the music is on the whole introspective, focused on the near rather than the far. As Yanagihara puts it herself, these are eight songs that focus on the landscape of one’s mind.
Over nine tracks (one song is repeated on solo piano as a bonus track), the synergetic trio creates image-like moods through Yanagihara’s original compositions. The music here focused on setting up a comfortable place with each tune, emphasizing atmosphere over flash, with waves of enveloping grooves pinned to lightly rocking rhythms.
The musical ambience is set up from the two-track opener “Rainy Song 1: At Midnight” and “Rainy Song 2: In the Forest”, where understated melodies shift and transform over subtly mesmerizing harmonies and rhythms. Similar mood-setting styles continue through the album on tracks like “Melancholia” with its strong backbeat and the lovely and thoughtful “After Tours”.
On Inner Views, the trio’s musical influences seem to draw from ECM ambient jazz and the stylistic modern jazz of E.S.T. or Bob James, with tiny hints of contemporary pop songwriters like Sting and James Taylor also in the mix. The mood is mostly consistent throughout, with the dynamics mostly staying between the sole bouncy swing jazz track “Traffic Jam” and the tranquil ballad “Silence”.
The final song, a solo piano rendition of “Moon Dance” (also played with the trio on track five), gives the listener an intimate ten minutes with the pianist as she builds up, deconstructs, and rebuilds to a dramatic close.
Inner Views by Yuka Yanagihara Trio
Yuka Yanagihara - piano
Yoshiki Yamada - bass
Ryo Noritake - drums
Released in 2019 on Tomtom Cherry Music as TCM-2002.
Japanese names: Yuka Yanagihara 柳原由佳 (Yanagihara Yuka) Yoshiki Yamada 山田吉輝 (Yamada Yoshiki) Ryo Noritake 則武諒 (Noritake Ryo)
Audio and Video
Excerpt from “After Tours”, track #8 on this album: