John Fordham – The Guardian ****

This solo album from London pianist Nikki Yeoh has been a long time coming – Courtney Pine hired her back in the early 1990s, and she’s been an original, if elusive, composer/player ever since. Now she’s come out with the solo set that always seemed imminent. The mazey Six As 1, a left-hand hook varied first by darting chords and trills and then jangling, stretching-and-squeezing rhythm patterns, springs from a John Cage-inspired composition she wrote for six pianos. Her ballad playing confirms her subtlety in developing slow songs in melodically mobile but cohesive ways. Some pieces sound like impetuously abstract stride-piano and the title track is a sly hint at a bass groove that develops a brusque, glittery melody. Mutual Serenade, composed by an 18-year-old Yeoh after hanging out with Brazilian force of nature Hermeto Pascoal, is a strings-strumming meditation that becomes a harmonically sophisticated mood piece and then a rich, harplike swirl. There are no gimmicks or fashionable angles, just a gifted pianist taking a long-postponed journey.



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