Stefano Bollani Trio – Stone In The Water (2009)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 61:44 minutes | 1,08 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz.com | Front cover
“Stone in the Water” features the brilliant Italian pianist’s “Danish trio”, a group that has been honing its improvisational understanding for six years already. Bassist Jesper Bodilsen and drummer Morten Lund (both making ECM debuts) draw on a still longer association, having collaborated closely for more than 15 years. The three players move, with immense subtlety, through a fascinating programme that includes new pieces by Bollani and Bodilsen, plus ballads by Caetano Veloso and Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Poulenc’s “Improvisation 13 en mineur”, bringing fresh colours to the piano trio genre.
Material on “Stone in the Water” spans original pieces by Bollani and Bodilsen, tunes by Caetano Veloso and Antonio Carlos Jobim and Poulenc’s “Improvisation 13 en la mineur” – it’s a wide range of material, unified by the gracefulness of Bollani’s touch and the feeling of freedom in the trio playing. The group sound is supple, subtle, flowing, and thoroughly musical. Stefano Bollani: “There is a special chemistry in the trio, difficult to pin down in words. We’re all about the same age [Bollani and Lund were born in 1972, Bodilsen in 1970], we all grew up listening to the same records, have a similar range of interests…that’s part of it. We never have to discuss how to play a piece of music, which in my experience is very unusual, and there’s a shared understanding that the way we play the songs can sometimes be more important than the material itself. One thing I know for sure is that every note I play is going to be listened to, and developed by Jesper and Morten. And that’s rare, because we live in an age of highly-gifted jazz soloists who listen mostly to themselves! In this group, listening is central, and each of us is always caring, in every moment, about what the others are doing. Everybody is always focused on the total group sound. It’s my ideal of how jazz group-playing should be.
The delicacy of many ECM recordings can be measured via degrees, but in the case of the music conceived by pianist Stefano Bollani, those increments of hushed tones are micro dynamic, rendered as quintessentially subdued. Within a typically formatted piano-bass-drums trio, Bollani alongside bassist Jesper Bodilsen and drummer Morten Lund can be described favorably as a cut below most groups of this type in terms of a sonic footprint. While Tord Gustavsen, Esbjorn Svensson, or Bobo Stenson may approach the similarly softer side of contemporary Continental jazz, Bollani has them covered in his utterly subtle approach, while still grasping an elusive, haunting quality to melody-making. These themes are definitely based on a liquid, clear, cool quality that is founded on European chamber music. What is surprising on this disc is how Bollani has adapted the Brazilian music of Caetano Veloso, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Vinicius DeMoraes to his brand of solemn and dimmed light voicings. His version of “Dom de Iludir” parallels the classic melody of “My Romance,” while “Brigas Nunca Mais” is humbled into a solemn reality, held in place by Lund’s brushwork. A feeling of compact, ethereal wholeness is maintained in the oval framework of this music, whether during the playful, cascading waterfall motif of “Il Cervello del Pavone,” the steady, somewhat energized “Un Sasso Nello Stagno,” or the small sparks of percussive energy in “Asuda,” all compositions of the pianist. The fourth piece contributed by Bollani, “Joker in the Village,” has a stairstep, elfin quality that combines childlike mischief with the overall enigmatic façade listeners have come to expect from a Manfred Eicher production. Bodilsen contributes two sleek pieces, as the free-spirited and light “Orvieto” and the under-the-surface, dark, and mysterious paean to “Edith” perfectly center the group as coming out of the introspective, neo-baroque-oriented ECM stable. Surprisingly “out of the box” is an interpretation of French 20th century composer Francis Poulenc’s “Improvisation 13 en la Mineur,” which sounds merged with the standard “Out of Nowhere.” It could be said that this effort is inspired by peaceful oceanic waves lapping up ashore at dusk or daybreak, but you’d have to assume that. Perhaps it is an aural representation of the concentric wave a stone produces as it hits the surface of said water. For sure, the music you hear Bollani and his trio creating is pure and serene, far removed from a traditional jazz trio, and approaching new era — not new age — craftsmanship.