Yuko Mabuchi Trio (2017)

Rollins, Mabuchi, Okano, Kern, Bareillas, Kaper, Lehman, Porter

Yuko Mabuchi, Del Atkins, Bobby Breton

I first heard the Yuko Mabuchi Trio at Catalina Bar and Grill in Hollywood. The trio performed for the annual SAPPA gala, a non-profit organization for which Yuko volunteers as accompanist for the Watts-Willowbrook Youth Symphony. I went home that night, thinking about the trio’s electrifying sound and Yuko’s dynamism. I telephoned the next day, asking if Yuko wanted to make a debut album with her trio. “Yes!” she said. We held our live concert recording session on March 31st, 2017. My friend Billy Mitchell was an integral part of this project, organizing rehearsals and assisting in the overall production of this recording. His depth of experience, superb instincts, good humor and organizational ability have made this project an enduring pleasure.
Dr. Antonio Damasio generously invited us back to the Brain and Creativity Institute’s Cammilleri Hall at USC for this concert and recording. This is the gem of a concert hall designed by Yasuhisa Toyota and lovingly built by Antonio and Hanna Damasio, where Yarlung recorded our first jazz albums with Sophisticated Lady jazz quartet. The superb concert hall acoustics and the cozy 90 seat size make Cammilleri ideal for all sorts of music but especially nice for an intimate jazz concert like this. If only more jazz clubs sounded like Cammilleri Hall!
Yarlung’s engineers Arian Jansen and Tom Caulfield joined me for this project which we recorded in stereo on analog tape and in DSD 256, and 5 Channel Surround Sound in DSD 256. Special thanks to our family at the Brain and Creativity Institute: Ivan Zawinul, Mario Gurrola, Denise Nakamura, Faith Ishibashi and Cinthya Nuñez, who make all great things possible. Much appreciation also to Brittany Welsh at the Radisson Midtown Hotel at USC who made us feel so welcome.
- Bob Attiyeh, Yarlung Records

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Yuko Mabuchi

Yuko Mabuchi moved to the United States from her native Japan only recently, but when she plays American jazz she speaks the language perfectly. I love Yuko’s sense of rhythm and melody, and her improvising feels like she was born in Detroit or New York City. Her technique reminds me of some of Yuko’s music idols like Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock and Monty Alexander. But beyond her talent for traditional jazz, one can also hear flavors of American R&B, Hip-Hop and Blues, which Yuko loved as a teenager. This album’s associate producer and Yarlung special advisor Billy Mitchell describes Yuko’s playing as “funky from the heart,” and he means that as an enormous compliment. Yuko was born in Fukui, on the west coast of Japan, north of Kyoto. She studied classical music and the piano starting at age four, and continued her studies at the AN Music School in Kyoto, where she was a jazz piano student of Kunihiro Kameda.

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Yuko Mabuchi Trio (2017)

Rollins, Mabuchi, Okano, Kern, Bareillas, Kaper, Lehman, Porter

Yuko Mabuchi, Del Atkins, Bobby Breton


I have been thinking of authoring another installment of Lovely Recordings but have not yet had the time to sit down and do so. However, there is one recent release which is so good in terms of the music, musicianship and sound quality that it deserves a mention on its own. Namely the Yuko Mabuchi Trio recording from Yarlung Records. In the liner notes, Ms. Mabuchi notes that she is a fan of two of my favorite jazz pianists, Oscar Peterson and Monty Alexander, and it shows both in terms of her playing and how she presents the material. Only Monty could pull off making "Feelings" into compelling piece or turn "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" into a stomping jazz swing piece. Ms. Mabuchi does the same thing with my favorite piece here, a fantastic re-imagining of Sara Bareilles' "Seriously" into a reggae flavored soulful affair. The sound here is superb, recorded live in a small theatre using DSD 256. The detail, sense of space and most importantly, dynamics, are thrilling. It is rare in the audiophile world to get such a perfect pairing of compelling music and sound quality. I downloaded the album from NativeDSD at DSD 128 resolution. Highly recommended.

Joe Whip[read full review]

    French Vintage HiFi

Welcome to the best of the digital world. A Native DSD256 file recorded by pianist extraordinaire Yuko Mabuchi and her Trio. Played back on the newest Merging+NADAC Player with Roon. The Merging Technologies room at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver with the Definitive Technology BP2000TL speakers certainly gave it justice.

Jean-Marie Liere

    Merging Technologies

This album thrilled the RMAF attendees who visited our room. Wonderful recording.

    The Absolute Sound

If the eponymous debut album by the Yuko Mabuchi Trio can be seen as a coming out party, it’s hard to imagine the musicians squeezing anything more out of the event. The nearly hour-long set includes some well-known jazz standards, including a gorgeous On Green Dolphin Street and an exuberant romp through Sonny Rollins’ St. Thomas. During a solo piano medley, Mabuchi’s reconstruction of Take the “A” Train displays a fertile imagination and a confident left hand. A sly reading of Sara Bareilles’ Seriously shows Mabuchi’s ability to spot a pop song that translates nicely into the jazz idiom. Her interpretive skills also surface on a composition by TAS music reviewer Mark Lehman, Waltz Noir; here the trio uses a classical composition as a launch pad for some highly evocative noir jazz. If Mabuchi’s playing can be described as tasteful, economical, and lyrical, it should also be noted that her rapid single-note runs are impeccably executed. The performances benefit from an exceptionally realistic recording that stands out for its in-the-room ambience and tonal clarity. So far this year I’ve heard a dozen recordings by piano trios, and Yuko Mabuchi Trio stands up against any of them.

Jeff Wilson[read full review]

    Positive Feedback

Yuko Mabuchi plays the ivories with the touch of an angel and the understanding of an artist many times her young age. She is backed by seasoned musicians with strong drive, plus an acute sense of playing with, and not over, the pianist. This is Yarlung’s third jazz album recorded like you wish all performances were recorded: listening is just like being there. All that's missing here is the expensive tickets and a sticky floor! The selection of mostly standards and stand-outs is delightful and hard to leave. I liked every one of them, particularly the "All The Things You Are," "Take The A Train," "Satin Doll Medley," and "St. Thomas," a Sonny Rollins classic. The "Japanese Medley" was hauntingly gorgeous and intriguing. I played it twice in my first listening pass. The album is all about Yuko Mabuchi, and the bass and drums rarely step out from a supporting role. When they do, it is lovely to hear. The recording is natural and neutral with a bullet. I hear no tinkering or sweetening that does not belong there. Definition is top notch. Ambient cues, imaging solidity, and airiness are state of the art. The soundstage is huge and lifelike, and you will be drawn into it. I could easily hear the size of the venue. The Yuko Mabuchi Trio Concert album has my highest recommendation. Should knock your socks off in hi-rez!

Robert Levi[read full review]

Yuko Mabuchi Trio (2017)

Rollins, Mabuchi, Okano, Kern, Bareillas, Kaper, Lehman, Porter

Yuko Mabuchi, Del Atkins, Bobby Breton

Digital Converters: Merging Technologies Hapi
Mastering Engineer: Steve Hoffman & Bob Attiyeh

AKG C-24, 2 Schoeps M222 Vacuum Tube microphones and a Bock 5Zero7 microphone (Stereo), 3 DPA 4041SP microphones and 2 DPA 4006A microphones (5.0 Channel Surround Sound)

Producer: Bob Attiyeh
Associate Producer: Billy Mitchell
Executive Producers: Randy Bellous (Stereo) & Claude Cellier, Merging Technologies (DSD & 5.0 Channel Surround Sound)
Recording Engineer:
Bob Attiyeh and Arian Jansen (Stereo); Tom Caulfield, (5.0 Channel Surround Sound)
Recording location: Brain and Creativity Institute’s Cammilleri Hall at University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, California
Recording Software: Merging Technologies Pyramix
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD 256

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What Is This Thing Called Love
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Valse Noire
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On Green Dolphin Street
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Medley: All the things you are, take the A train, satin doll
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Sona's Song
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St Thomas
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