Saturday, March 7, 2009

Borah Bergman Trio - Luminescence (Tzadik, 2009) ****

Ever since Anthony Coleman's beautiful piano trios on Tzadik, mixing sephardic traditional music with jazz, I have been captivated by the almost seamless integration of jewish traditional scales in a more modern setting, including a kind of emotional closeness, where melancholy and the blues come together as long-lost lovers. Now it's Borah Bergman's term to do the same, but differently, with Greg Cohen on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums, with John Zorn on sax on one track. Without a doubt the music also made Bergman change his style too, playing more inside than usual, more laid-back on the surface of things, but what he does is no less compelling. He manages to exploit the trio format optimally, that is not only as his rhythmic support, but rather as point of reference and often also as an element of contrast, playing in different tempos, with the rhythm section double-timing the piano, or in full counterpoint. And be sure that Cohen and Wollesen know how to deal with that. The jewish traditional music here is based on cantorial singing, but Bergman is careful enough to avoid the trap of the all-too-easy adaptation into a new format, carefully creating his own kind of interpretation of the material, which is quite modern, reverent and sweet to the ear. The same can be said of Zorn's part on "Luma", and that is also unusual (Zorn? Sweet to the ear? Yes, indeed!). The overall result is not quite in line with what you would have expected, but this more accessible side of Bergman is nice to hear. It is not a revolutionary listening experience, but it will do well for the more tranquil moments of quiet solitude.

Listen to an extract from "Scattering"

© stef

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