Nearly 15 years of collective rumination about the jazz trio tradition has led to this collection of original compositions by Swiss pianist Sylvie Courvoisier, dedicated to many of her inspirations. Here, Courvoisier is joined by her American associates, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Kenny Wollesen. Intense, but not insensate, Courvoisier’s tunes are unique enough to equally incorporate brooding meditations, solemn threnodies and springy acknowledgments.
Dedicated to pianist Geri Allen, for instance, D’Agala is actually more reminiscent of Bill Evans’ trio elaborations, where emphasized keyboard tones move forward crab-like, as each texture is shadowed by connective double bass thumps and underscored by echoing bell-tree-like and chain-shaking percussion that frames each carefully thought-out pattern. Éclats for Ornette, honouring saxophonist Coleman, jostles with a wobbly effervescence as the semi-blues melody and walking bass emphasis work into a clanking climax that’s as self-possessed as it is solid. South Side Rules for guitarist John Abercrombie is as sparse, distant and darkened as his work, yet each isolated note is kept from formalism by cymbal swirls and drum shuffles; while Fly Whisk, for Irène Schweizer, isolates the celebrated pianist’s distinctive keyboard tapestry, relieved by bursts of forceful chording, without every compromising Courvoisier’s singular identity.
Immersing herself in these nine demonstrations of jazz trio wizardry, the pianist does more than appropriately honour her important influences. Her playing and compositions confirm her membership in the coterie of innovative improvising keyboardists.