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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Achim Kaufmann, Mark Dresser, Harris Eisenstadt - Starmelodics (NuScope, 2008) ****

I usually prerfer bands with horns or guitar, because I like their level of expressiveness in a free environment. Yet once in a while a piano trio grabs my attention, and this one is a great one, with Achim Kaufmann on piano, Mark Dresser on bass and Harris Eisenstadt on percussion. The album starts with the title tune, "Starmelodics", penned by Dresser, and it is a unique composition, unlike any I have heard for piano trio. It starts with light percussive touches, followed by an eery high-pitched arco bass, making the silence throb with tension, halfway the track the drums move into a rhythmic pattern and the piano joins, just to color a little, while Dresser keeps playing a heart-rending arco solo, shifting to plucking and opening the room for the piano to really enter. Staggeringly beautiful. The next track is an angular trio improvisation, with Kaufmann plucking his piano strings while playing his keyboard at the same time. "Vancouver" is a composition by (Canadian) Eisenstadt, with a boppish yet irregular rhythm, gathering speed and intensity, demanding from all three musicians their utmost technical skills to keep up the breakneck tempo. "Birdz" starts with high screeching tones (source unknown to me, but I guess it's the piano!), followed by a halting, yet emotionally intense bass solo by Dresser. This is a real trio album, with all three musicians not only delivering compositions for the record, but each track, regardless of who wrote it, is the result of the three of them interacting cleverly and creatively. These are three incredibly skilled musicians full of ideas, who do not move too far away into unchartered territories, but they use the know to create different angles of approach, leading to relatively accessible and captivating music.


Unknown said...

I just ordered this today, after almost doing so a number of times before. I really like Kaufmann's playing, so I can't wait to hear this.