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Paul Yonemura, Drums
Rick Helzer, Frank Martin, Michael Wolff, Piano
David Dunaway, John Lauffenburger, Doug Miller, John Wiitala, Bass
Drummer/composer Paul Yonemura is joined by three superb jazz piano trios, exploring jazz from straight-ahead to contemporary, with jazz standards and original tunes.
The Bay area drum legend works it out here with a rotating cast of bass and piano players giving this set three different flavors as it puts differing trios in the spotlight. A teacher of the year multiple award winner, he doesn’t play like a cat whose day job subsidizes his art. This drummer knows how to give everyone some and anyone whose ever been down with jazz piano trios has a cake with whipped crème and a cherry on top here. Well done.
Chris Spector - Midwest Record Review
Paul Yonemura returns to recording with three trios, seven new compositions, and inventive re-imaginings of three standards, all of which spring from a deep reverence for the Bill Evans tradition. Like all the most compelling jazz recordings, Reunion Trios is intimate, expressive, uplifting, and soul-restoring.
Ken Borgers - JazzKnob.org
An active drummer in San Francisco Bay Area circles, Paul Yonemura actually works here with three different groups — all trios, with different players in every trio. Of the ten selections, three are standards: “Stella By Starlight,” “There Is No Greater Love” and Johnny Carisi’s “Israel.” Six tunes represent formidable works by various trio members, and there’s one hit from the pop world called “Fire And Rain.”
Space and sanity doesn’t allow us to cover every name from all three trios. But for the record, the three pianists are Rick Helzer, Frank Martin and Michael Wolff. All three account very well for themselves in a straight ahead fashion. Although the CD is in Yonemura’s name, the drummer keeps it all solid with no over-the-top bravado. Perhaps my favorite is the Carisi classic “Israel,” which features Wolff at the piano. This is the kind of real deal piano jazz that you’d love in a club setting. Kudos to Yonemura. He knew just what he wanted. And he got it!
George Fendel - Jazz Society of Oregon
Folks, this is some absolutely tasty West Coast jazz… Paul’s drums lead a whole host of “guest performers” in ten tunes you won’t soon knock off your playlists! He’s best known in the Bay Area for his assistance to (many) budding musicians… the recording is excellent, and tunes like “Stella By Starlight” take on new life under his drumsmanship. The lively “Seventh Heaven” will keep you listening for every next beat until the end of this fine 7:01 performance. The laid-back & bluesy “Blue Couch” will hold you spellbound… piano is superb on this one, too, with silky-smooth brush work from Paul to keep the mood where it belongs for this kind of tune. It was the pep & punch on “Israel” that made it my personal favorite of all the tunes on this release. Paul & his (various) crews (three different trios, actually) get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97 for this fine set of music.
Dick Metcalf - Rotcod Zzaj - Improvijazzation Nation