I seem to like a piano trio that is well marinated in rhythm. No matter how lush - both hands on the keyboard and the sustain pedal pressed - or how spare, if served with that extra dash of flavor, I'm hooked. Alon Nechushtan's 'Words Beyond' hits the spot. From the opening moments of the jaunty 'Muppet Shock', the bass, drum and piano are perfectly immersed and proportioned.
Nechushtan works with the klezmer influenced group Talat, but the straight ahead "Words Beyond" is his debut under his own name. His co-creators are Dan Weiss on drums and Francois Moutin on bass. While the obvious ingredients are the highly complimentary accompaniment and strong melodic tunes, I think that the secret one is his fast and confident phrasing.
The aforementioned 'Muppet Shock' kicks off with a twinkling melody that bounces playfully off the rhythm section. After the Monk-like knot of a melody plays out, the group relaxes into uptempo solos, showcasing their ample chops. Nechushtan's comping is minimal but buoys the proceedings precisely. 'Different Kind of Morning' evolves rapidly into a modern jazz tune, with a straightforward melody and inspired improvisation. Things keep chugging along with 'Spinning the Clouds', but this one features a lithe backbeat and some subtle hard bop inspired riffs. 'Secret Short - Short Secret' is a seven minute excursion that, to me, is the highlight of the album. It features the piano spinning a melody and harmony that makes great use of the lower register of the piano, which then leads into a solo by Moutin that is a joy to follow - I particularly enjoy the piano's comping behind the bass. Even 'Heartbreakthrough', which is the sole ballad of the set, has a tender introspectiveness but contains just enough hint of the spice.
Alon Nechushtan's Beyond Words is a smart synthesis of styles and genres of jazz made modern. Stylistic homages to Monk and abstract quotes dot the playing and compositions. The net effect is a lively work showcasing excellent group cohesion and imaginative playing. Lots of fun!
(c) Paul Acquaro