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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Piano trios

Maybe because of christmas coming, we are getting a little weak in the heart, sentimental and soft, and so are some of the new releases to be presented, going back to their roots rather than moving forward, but luckily not all.

Chad Taylor - Circle Down (482 Music, 2009) ***

I am a great fan of drummer Chad Taylor, whether he plays with Fred Anderson, with Digital Primitives or the Chicago Underground Trio. I loved what Angelica Sanchez did with the Sanchez/Malaby/Rainey band, or on her own albums, especially her latest. Chris Lightcap figures on so many albums I like that I can't list them here. And hence I bought this album, full of expectations, too high maybe, because the end result is a little disappointing, to me at least. It a nice piano trio album. Not much adventure. Exercises in various rhythms. Great piano playing. Excellent rhythm section. Some post-bop, some Latin even. Nice. Sweet.

Listen and download from eMusic.

Vijay Iyer Trio - Historicity (ACT, 2009) ***½

Wizz kid Vijay Iyer has released many excellent albums in the past, creating his own thundering rhythmically complex percussive style, either with his own bands or with saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa. Here he is accompanied by Stephan Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. Like with Chad Taylor's album, is a shift into more mainstream territory, more accessible, yet also less interesting and less intense than some of his previous work, although I'm sure it will get wider acclaim in the jazz press. The title refers to his indebtedness and admiration for other music, as he illustrates here, ranging from Leonard Bernstein over Andrew Hill and Stevie Wonder to hip hop. This gives reverent pieces, more modern rhythms, romantic and dramatic pieces, all played with stunning technical skills by the three musicians. He even cover Hempill's "Dogon A.D.", one of the best compositions ever that has rarely been covered, but Iyer brings the second noteworthy version of this year, with Marty Ehrlich's releasing the other one. Crump and Gilmore are absolutely excellent on the piece, with the arco doing a great job of emulating the cello. Despite Iyer's percussive style and versatility, he doesn't manage to capture the heart-rending aspect of the tune. Sure, it is technically all excellent, but it's a different style. Great, but again my expectations were higher. And of course, it's Iyer's rightful choice to seek a wider audience for his music. Post-bop fans will surely like this.

Watch Historicity's promo video

Plaistow - Jack Bambi (Self Published, 2009) ****

Some good news is coming from Switzerland though. Plaistow is a young band, with Johann Bourquenez on piano, Raphaël Ortis on bass and Cyril Bondi on drums. Like E.S.T. they integrate elements from rock music in their jazz, which gives the music a very young and modern flavor, and they add a dose of madness and chaos that the late Esbjörn Svensson did not have. These guys go for it. They do what they like. True, some of the shifts are quite sudden, and it does not always sound very coordinated, but these are just minor ailments compared to their drive and innovative power. The record has a DVD with it, on which Michel Wintsch of the WHO Trio joins on piano, together with Cyril Moulas on bass and Nicolas Field on drums. The DVD is a little chaotic, but the CD is absolutely great, and wild, and sensitive. Traditionalists, please abstain.This is post-jazz!

You can download the whole thing, lock stock & barrel, for free from their website.

© stef


Anonymous said...

Thanks for review. Plaistow is really amazing!

Anonymous said...

The Vijay Iyer is on nearly every top ten list around,so you've got it all wrong:"Historicity"-2&1/2 stars :-)!!!


Stef said...

Hi Bill,

I couldn't care less what people put in their top ten list of the year.

All the best for 2010!