Album Review of

Written by Robert Silverstein
April 5, 2021 - 3:18pm EDT
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In 2021, Japanese piano jazz sensation Yuko Mabuchi released a double live CD set simply entitled Yuko. The perfect musical showcase for The Yuko Mabuchi Trio, Yuko was recorded live in concert at the Vibrato Jazz Club in Los Angeles, with the support of her group members Del Atkins (bass) and Bobby Breton (drums). As this choice selection of music points out, Yuko is an electrifying and charismatic performer that is as equally comfortable playing original music featured on her four earlier albums, as she is in covering a wide range of song classics by Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, George Gershwin and Stevie Wonder to name a few artists covered by Yuko here. Other Yuko highlights include the 1963 Japanese pop classic “Sukiyaki” and a rousing version of the 1967 Marvin Gaye / Tammi Terrell hit, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, which also spotlights Yuko’s vocals as a song-closing coda at the end. Although the Yuko album is primarily instrumental, on “So Danco Samba”, (the 1962 bossa nova classic written by Antonio Carlos Jobim), she changes musical gears and sings up a storm. Throughout Yuko, there’s a definite McCoy Tyner influence in both the artist’s piano-centric energy and her compositional interpretation to most of these songs. Though the music is superbly executed, serving as a great introduction to her music, perhaps the best thing about the double Yuko album is the actual sound of the live recording. It’s rare that a live album captures, in full glory, all the dynamics of an artist in performance but the superb sound quality of Yuko matches the musical invention and expertise of the artist.