Thursday, October 22, 2020

Sylvie Courvoisier Trio - Free Hoops (Intakt Records, 2020)

Free Hoops is the third album by pianist and composer Sylvie Courvoisier and her trio mates Drew Gress on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums. Their music is complex but accessible, often developing into witty improvised sections, played with a sense of quality and exuberance. "Lulu Dance" uses subterranean piano phrases ended with distinct clinks like the end of line bell on an old typewriter. Taut bass and light drums keep the music well integrated, without pressure or force and Courvoisier makes use of the entirety of her instrument and becomes as much a percussionist in conjunction with more forceful drumming. There is a sharp break, opening a more spacious and free area, gradually building momentum with cymbals and flowing piano, building to a more buoyant and colorful finish. Dynamic and choppy piano quietly repeats a short theme during "Just Twisted," before becoming progressively louder and more percussive amid strong drumming and aggressive bass playing. The group plays in a joyous kaleidoscopic free manner before breaking for an excellent bass solo framed by percussion and spare keyboard. The music is quite complex in its rapid shifts of tempo and tone but the musicians are more than up to the task. "Requiem d’un songe" has spare percussion and bass opening the piece, paired with droplets of crystalline piano notes. The music is quite gentle and beautiful, as the musicians interact as if in a dance. After a few minutes there is a change adding more urgency from the bass and drums and complex piano sending coded information at a rapid pace. The narrative is constantly changing, moving into a bass solo with drum accents. The trio comes together at a very fast tempo, playing tightly wound, with a return to the spare reflective nature of the music to close the performance. Rippling impish piano weaves around the bass and drums on "Nicotine Sarcoline" quickly developing with large bright chords and slashing cymbals, before digging sown into some excellent bass playing, and a more controlled pace. The rippling, cascading piano is never far away, returning and taking the bass and drums for another wild ride, and leading to a brash and exciting conclusion. This album worked quite well, the always changing dynamic nature of the music ensures that nothing gets stale and shows that the trio is in a state of continuous growth. Free Hoops - amazon.com

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