Friday, January 26, 2018

Sylvie Courvoisier Trio - D'Agala (Intakt Records, 2018)

Dedicating her compositions to a wide range of inspiring individuals allows pianist Sylvie Courvoisier to create another excellent album with shades of mood and nuance that draw from jazz, classical music as well as other non-musical artforms. While this album plays tribute to those who have recently passed, it is far from morose, rather a celebration of life and accomplishments. Rounding out her trio with Kenny Wollesen on drums and Wollesonic and Drew Gress on bass, the opening track "Imprint Double (For Antoine Courvoisier)" has an arresting beginning section of low toned piano playing with a brisk though light beat, which develops a propulsive and open sounding groove. The shading of light and darkness encapsulates the title and works very well, providing a push - pull dynamic of friction that powers the music at varying levels of tension. A warm toned bass solo anchors the middle section, framed by subtle piano and percussion, before moving to a more full bodied conclusion. The bright and nimble "Éclats For Ornette (for Ornette Coleman)" is a simmering track that allows the trio to engage in some very exciting uptempo collective improvisation that even hints at the blues which were at the core of Coleman's own work. The music cascades in a very impressive way, channeling freedom without losing its inherent melodicism. There is a fine albeit short drum solo embedded into the larger work, one that focuses the rhythm of the piece and it's dedicatee. "Pierino Porcospino (For Charlie)" has a supple and interesting rhythmic structure that uses softly played but very active percussion, along with swift and skittish piano playing to create a very interesting and intricate performance. The speed the trio builds to is very impressive, but never reckless, and the general lightness of tone and volume is very interesting. The title track "D'Agala (For Geri Allen)" is the longest performance on the album, and one of its most emotionally resonant. The passing of Allen at a relatively young age was a shock to the jazz community of which she was a mentor and an inspiration. The music begins with reverent quiet of lush piano and bass with subtle and unexpected percussive sounds. There is a beautiful and patient bass solo that anchors the music amidst the larger soundscape that Wollensen provides. "Circumbent (For Martin Puryear)" goes in the other direction, taking a short and punchy approach to the music with the instruments bouncing off of one another and creating new and unexpected sounds as a result. Fast ripples and slashes of piano and percussion meet stoic and grounded bass, building a powerful dynamic that drives the music along nicely. Bowed bass and feathery percussion meet bursts of piano on "Fly Whisk (For Irène Scheizer)" allowing the music to lunge forward and then rock back upon itself like a predator stalking prey. Moving to plucked bass, and settling in with the drums, Gress provides some superb playing on this track, as the piano briefly lays out for a fine duet section. The leader returns and takes the music into a fast paced and exciting turn with everyone playing in a percussive and rhythmic manner. "South Side Rules (For John Abercrombie)" is a closing nod to the great guitarist that conveys a sense of mystery and potency that was present in his best work, with the development of a thoughtful melody into a powerful and prominent trio improvisation. D'Agala -

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