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Colin Vallon Trio: Danse

 A l b u m   D e t a i l s

Label: ECM Records
Released: 2017.01.13
Category: Jazz, Contemporary Jazz
Producer(s): Manfred Eicher
Media type: CD
Web address: www.colinvallon.com
Appears with:
Purchase date: 2017
Price in €: 1,00

 S o n g s ,   T r a c k s

[1] Sisyphe (C.Vallon) - 4:26
[2] Tsunami (C.Vallon) - 7:00
[3] Smile (C.Vallon) - 5:20
[4] Danse (C.Vallon) - 2:07
[5] L'Onde (C.Vallon) - 5:41
[6] Oort (C.Vallon/J.Sartorius/P.Moret) - 2:13
[7] Kid (C.Vallon) - 6:13
[8] Reste (C.Vallon) - 1:36
[9] Tinguely (P.Moret) - 4:42
[10] Morn (C.Vallon) - 4:14
[11] Reste (C.Vallon) - 2:23

 A r t i s t s ,   P e r s o n n e l

Colin Vallon - Piano
Patrice Moret - Double Bass
Julian Sartorius - Drums

Manfred Eicher - Producer
Stefano Amerio - Engineer
Design – Sascha Kleis
Nicolas Masson - Photography

 C o m m e n t s ,   N o t e s

2017 CD ECM Records - ECM 2517

Recorded in February 2016 at the Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, Lugano.

The Colin Vallon Trio has found its own space in the crowded world of the piano trio by quietly challenging its conventions. On its third ECM album Vallon again leads the group not with virtuosic solo display but by patient outlining of melody and establishing of frameworks in which layered group improvising can take place. With this group, gentle but insistent rhythms can trigger seismic musical events. Although Vallon (recently nominated for the Swiss Music Prize) is the author of nine of the pieces here, the band members share equal responsibilities for the music’s unfolding. The gravitational pull of Patrice Moret’s bass and the intense detail supplied by Julian Sartorius’s drums and cymbals are crucial to the success of Vallon’s artistic concept and the range of emotions the music can convey. Danse is issued in both CD and LP editions.

ECM Records

It's simple: any music fan seeking something quite "different" from contemporary instrumental music -- and specifically from conventional notions of the "jazz piano trio" -- should investigate Switzerland's Colin Vallon Trio. Danse, Vallon's third date for ECM, might be the recording that establishes the band's (and his) reputation outside Europe and hopefully with an audience outside the confines of jazz. Danse hasn't much to do with pop, but Vallon, who wrote nine of these 11 tunes, obviously admires its more adventurous expressions. Those familiar with the trio's two previous albums know this music is as expansive as it is articulate and focused. The improvisation is plentiful, and based on the trio's interaction in (mostly) songlike pieces that are usually inseparably dependent on circular rhythm. Vallon, double bassist Patrice Moret, and drummer Julian Sartorius do solo, but almost always within structural harmonic themes and defined rhythmic pulses. They communicate a piece's inner dynamic that is welcoming, even when dissonant, to listeners.

In opener "Sisyphe," Sartorius sets a 4/4 rhythm with his brushes. When Vallon enters, he establishes a hymn-like melody, almost a processional. Moret initially reflects only the changes, but within a couple of choruses he delivers an elegant solo that illuminates both harmony and time signature. In "Tsunami," Vallon introduces a mysterious, classically tinged waltz. In his own solo he uncovers layer after layer of hidden melody. Sartorius uses his bass drum to keep time, all the while gently accenting and altering the actual motif with his snare and cymbals, until the tune reflects an unveiled muscularity and has been transformed into a rather dramatic exercise in tension and release. In the group improvisation "Oort," he sets a seemingly fixed rhythm as Vallon explores Moret's haunting but effusive arco patterns. Its angular timbres and tonalities are tempered by the reflection of the time signature. "Kid," the set's longest cut, uses a tender, almost spiritual piano motif that weds songlike lyricism to modern classical harmony. This is buoyed by Moret's deep woody tone and economical use of notes. Sartorius "dances" on his own beat and the melody, adding a fluid, jazzman's musicality as the pianist's fills and chord voices lift it off the ground. Vallon's piano chops shine on "Tinguely." Rolling and muted snares, toms, and percussion set a quick pace for his fleet prepared piano solo that extends all over the keyboard. Moret and Sartorius keep increasing the tempo so that when the trio does comes back together, it's in a sprint of whirling color and timbre. Danse goes a full step further than 2014's Vent. Almost certainly most jazz fans will enjoy it for its fine display of dynamic, rhythmic, and improvisational group interplay. That said, other open-minded music listeners -- especially those who enjoy Jóhann Jóhannsson, Max Richter, Björk, Ólafur Arnalds, and Nils Frahm -- should find it appealing as well. This trio's music is as attractive and engaging as it is idiosyncratic and inventive.

Rating: 4/5

Thom Jurek - All Music Guide

Pianist Colin Vallon seems on the verge of a creative breakthrough with his new trio album Danse. With his third ECM trio release Vallon has cemented a personal approach to his music; it is one that has taken time to unfold much like many of his compositions. In his writing, as well as group interplay, the pianist has made a science of exploring open spaces and filling them with nuanced textures or opting for minimalism.

Vallon's influences include not only the familiar names of Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and Gyögy Ligeti but pop artists like Thom Yorke (Radiohead) and Björk. Here the pianist reunites with bassist Patrice Moret and drummer Julian Sartorius, both from his all-Swiss group on Le Vent (2015). Moret has been a working colleague for more than a decade and Sartorius had replaced Samuel Roher following Rruga (2014) and other pre-ECM albums.

The eleven compositions on Danse do not so much move the needle forward for Vallon and company as they do further refine the composer's excellent compositions. Having written nine of the eleven tracks on the album he clearly keeps the strengths of Moret and Sartorius in mind. The opening "Sisyphe" is an exquisite piece that demonstrates the perfect synergy between Vallon and Moret. Classical influences are apparent in "Tsunami" even as Sartorius' propulsion creates a tautness and—eventually—alters the motif. The title track offers a more intentionally disjointed relationship between piano and bass surprisingly held together by Sartorius while "L'onde" is more upbeat and pleasantly off-kilter. The drummer's light and musical touch can be best be appreciated on the beautiful "Kid" and that atmosphere bleeds into the brief "Reste." The album closes out with the hypnotic "Morn" and a second variation of "Reste."

Vallon has yet to find a broader and well-deserved audience in the US but that is logically a matter of time with three attention-demanding ECM releases. Much of his music exemplifies tranquility, even in the quirkier numbers, but there is always a restive quality, a tension that holds one's consideration and makes this more than a minimal experience. Danse has moments of unsurpassed beauty, offset by inventive, searching passages that portend the unexpected paths Vallon journeys down.

Rating: 4/5

Karl Ackermann - January 7, 2017
© 2017 All About Jazz

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