Monday, March 12, 2018

CD Review: Sylvie Courvoisier Trio - D'Agala

Sylvie Courvoisier Trio

Sylvie Courvoisier dedicated each of the nine tracks on her latest album to nine individuals from different walks of life, including a French politician, artists, musicians and her father. As it often goes with these homages, it's not a requirement to hear the tracks as direct representations of the honoree. Although in some cases the similarity might seem a bit intentional.

"Bourgeois's Spiders," named for artist Louis Bourgeois' arachnid sculptures, features Courvoisier shifting the focus away from the keys of her piano. She plays the frame of the instrument, or the strings themselves, as Drew Gress (bass) and Kenny Wollesen (drums) stealthily vamp beneath her, which evokes spiders.

Wolleson begins the eight-minute title track, dedicated to the late pianist Geri Allen, with a batch of arrhythmical sounds, which serve as ambiance rather than pulse. In the background, it sounds like a faucet drips, birds roost and what sounds like a rusty high hat cymbal adds irregular squeaks. (Some of that is pure metaphor.) In the foreground, Courvoisier and Gress play the rubato melody, the latter up the neck of his instrument. Though they move together, Gress follows a micro-second behind, giving it room to breathe.

At this point, D’Agala creates the temptation to scrutinize all the tracks, comparing and contrasting the way the pianist does or doesn’t evoke, for instance, Ornette Coleman in “Éclats for Ornette” (sort of) or the one-named honoree Charlie in the knotted “Pierino Porcospino” (who knows). “Fly Whisk” might not evoke Intakt regular Irène Schweizer (who’s recent Live! with drummer Joey Baron should also be checked out) but with quick staccato playing by Gress and Courvoisier, her labelmate would surely enjoy the track.

Bypass the names and D’Agala stands as a strong, varied set of music; all nine pieces explore different ideas, each as thought-provoking as the previous one. “Imprint Double” starts off with a low boogie riff (taught to Courvoisier by her father) with the rhythm of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground.” But before there is a chance to dig into either that song or to turn it more sinister, the trio moves onto something open and free. That ability to turn a corner and sustain focus, which a rhythm section that’s clearly in tune with her thoughts, makes Courvoisier’s latest effort a consistently rewarding listen.

No comments: