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"[A] resourceful young trombonist whose recent debut, ‘In the Now’ (Innova), shows him to be a smart composer-bandleader besides.”
“Wow. Trombonist John Yao’s debut album, and it is damn strong. Featuring Jon Irabagon on soprano, Yao weaves a deliciously textured album that seems of greater fullness than five instruments could create on their own. Songs like “Shorter Days” are just so joyful. Yao also leads the Yaozeki Big Band, which must inform his approach to the quintet based on the depth of In the Now. One of those albums where there’s a lot going on, plenty of complexities, yet remains inherently listenable. An engaging album that you can just sit back and enjoy. An album for old and new school jazz fans alike, and a terribly promising sign that this is Yao’s debut album. I’m already looking forward to hearing what comes next. ”
“In The Now is a magnificent musical display of the passion of not just creating music in the moment but is a look at the development and application of the creative process of a incredible young talent and his horn. A sonic smorgasbord of hard charging post bop smokers to lyrically captivating ballads has In The Now as one of the true sleepers of 2012! This formidable quintet can shift harmonics on the fly and despite some odd meter never allow themselves to get caught up in the more self indulgent traps similar ensembles might find themselves. Closing with a deceptively funky post bop influenced "Snafu" there is a harmonically driven cohesion, a lyrical sense of purpose with Yao giving a trombone masterclass. A solid and well thought out debut from a rising star, John Yao is a name to remember. Sonic texture, brilliant colors and moving beyond conventional form and function with purpose and direction has In The Now as a gem for 2012 and a release one should not overlook! ”