The Australian pianist Alister Spence’s musical career may have gone so far under the radar for most forward-thinking jazz aficionados. Unfortunately it is their loss. Spence is one of the most original, creative pianists working today, leading his own Australian trio and has recorded with innovative musicians such as Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii (Buddy, Textile, 2010), American pianist Myra Melford (the excellent piano duo record «Everything Here is Possible», 2014) and Scottish sax player Raymond MacDonald («Buddy» (2010) and «Stepping Between The Shadows» (Rufus, 2012)).
Spence’s new trio feature Stockholm-based, Canadian double bass player Joe Williamson and Swedish drummer Christopher Cantillo (who have worked and recorded together together with sax player Fredrik Ljungkvist, trombonist Mats Äleklint, vibes player Mattias Ståhl, Williamson’s alternative rock trio The Inconvenience and the experimental group The Ägg). The trio first performed in the 2009 edition of the Vilnius Jazz Festival. The trio formed immediately strong musical bonds in an open, searching interplay. It convened in Stockholm’s Atlantis studio in February 2013, after its third tour to record its debut album.
The 13 pieces on «Begin» sketch fresh, intriguing possibilities for an improvising piano trio in the 21st century. The trio never follows well-trodden paths, but constructs and conceptualizes new, powerful forms of interplay, textures and trio sound. This trio knows how to build an arresting tension, even a mini drama in a drone-like sound poem (as on the opening track «Slant»), improvise on rapid-changing, open-ended pulses or percussive sounds (on «Put» and «Curt»), suggest a spare, lyrical narrative (on «Slant» and «Circle») or explore otherworldly sonic terrains (as on «Drop» and the enigmatic minimalist «Let» and «Allow» or the noisy, free-form «Knock»). Still there is a strong sense of discipline, focused intensity, integrative interplay yet one that is always eager for adventures, experimental searches and cohesiveness, as if the sum of all these strategies is larger than its parts.
Brilliant musicianship, masterful playing and imaginative improvisational skills.
Text: Eyal Hareuveni
Alister Spence (p, prepared p, perc); Joe Williamson (b); Christopher Cantillo (d, perc)