On his impressive sophomore recording, the New York-based pianist enlists bassist Daniel Weller and drummer Matt Rousseau and a significant guest artist (saxophonist Noah Preminger) for a harmonically advanced yet tunefully engaging set of originals, and a beguiling interpretation of Lennon/McCartney’s “Julia” with a pretty vocal turn by Aubrey Johnson.
Songs like “Achi” and the title track are artfully structured gems that mix chamber jazz lyricism with grounding improvisational flourishes. Yeager builds tunes with layers that he peels back slowly, revealing sonic pleasures from his skillfully attuned trio. You can hear the influence of mentors like pianist Fred Hersch and Danilo Perez, storytellers who, like Yeager, give their music the essence of mysterious beauty. You hear it on the soulful “Blues For Billy P” and wistful “Aurora.” When the trio exercises their chops, the fleet tempo on “Stumblebop” and percussive time shifts on “Twelve Etude” are deftly effective as well, which makes Affirmation a polished and refined effort worth discovering. (12 tracks; 59 minutes)