Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Aki Takase, Christian Weber, Michael Griener - Auge (Intakt Records, 2021)

Pianist Aki Takase enjoys playing in the time honored jazz trio format but with one stipulation: the bassist and the drummer aren't just sidemen, they are equal partners in the project. She found two willing participants for this album in Christian Weber on bass and Michael Griener on drums, who bond with and embrace her ideas, creating thoughtful and unpredictable music. The second track, "Drops of Light," has a tumbling and fast past paced opening for piano and percussion, with the full trio ranging widely, and creating a broad soundscape, including bowed bass. Building kinetic energy, the trio pushes forward with cascading piano leading the bass and drums into exciting territory, creating a colorful and vibrant improvisation. The short follow up "Are Eyes Open" bounces lightly and gently in a happy and upbeat manner, with crisp and well played percussion meeting the bright piano head on. "The Pillow Book" uses some dynamically shifting clusters of piano notes to great effect, with dramatic pauses that allow shifting to new phases of the performance. The bass playing is deep and buoyant, with drums shading and adding supple rhythms, and the group is disciplined to whatever may come their way. Weber is the solo focus of the opening section of "Face of the Bass," and he plays very well, with the drums building in after a few minutes followed by piano. The trio sets up an edgy up-tempo performance, incorporating bowed bass and tightly wound drums, as the pace spirals ever faster, playing in an appealing bright and punchy fashion. "Calcagno" has an interesting rhythmic development shared between the three musicians, playing with a warm mid-tempo feeling with a light and nimble approach. "And if Not Why Not" has a very exciting fast development  with tight bass holding together simmering drums and wide ranging piano playing and making for an excellent team effort. Takase is all over the keyboard playing in a very advanced, yet accessible fashion with hints of Don Pullen in the huge swaths of sound she is able to achieve. There is a brief but well played drum solo that launches the full band to a fine finishing statement. This was a very good album, validating Takase's views on partnership in musical expression. Weber and Griener acquit themselves wholeheartedly to her concept, with the quick wit and talent to complement the master pianist. Auge - amazon.com

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