Its What Its
The Road Home
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With so much so-called 21st-century music to listen to it is refreshing when a disc turns up that harks back to the elements that made jazzy, improvisational music so attractive in the first place: melody and swing. In this case it is the album Gradient by the contrabassist Jesse Dietschi and his trio. This ensemble is fortified by pianist Ewen Farncombe, a wunderkind who combines technical prowess with intelligence and good taste, and the swinging timekeeper with a gift for melodicism, itinerant journeyman and drummer Ethan Ardelli, now well on his way to becoming something of a proverbial elder statesman.
The trio operates as a partnership of equals, not as bassist and accompaniment. Each participant is given ample room to stretch; to pick up threads, develop ideas and to embellish Dietschi’s compositions with a range of ear-worm riffs, dancing melodies, insistent rhythms and harmonies with the added elements of colour and texture.
A relative newcomer, Dietschi emerges as an eloquent musical contrabassist producing some tasty arco work (cue Loose Plug and Canmore), and agile pizzicato everywhere else. As a composer he is clearly more gifted than he would get credit for being. This is likely because he splits his time between chamber orchestras and contemporary ensembles. The music of Gradient, however, suggests a questing mind with a borderless, erudite aesthetic. This is quite a rare combination under any circumstance.