The French Jazzdor Festival has supported Swiss, Berlin-based trombonist Samuel Blaser’s work for over a decade, from creating his duo with French guitarist Marc Ducret to his trio with Ducret and Danish drummer Peter Bruun. Roundabout + Triple Dip is a double album – Roundabout is a duo with a long-time comrade, American, New York-based pianist Russ Lossing while Triple Dip features a trio with Lossing and American, fellow New Yorker and veteran drummer Billy Mintz (who hosted Blaser in his big band album The 2 Bass Band…Live (Thirteenth Note, 2015).
Roundabout is, naturally, more intimate and offers ten, wise and contemplative, chamber conversations between brilliant improvisers, with distinct sound, phrasing and vocabularies of their own. And, as the director of Jazzdor, Philippe Ochem (and executive producer of this album), notes. it is a «cliché-free art in a happily uneven flow of original discourse», balancing a sense of form perfectly with the spontaneity of improvisation and letting the music develop without constraint, with its inner logic and its own accord. The ten original pieces shine with their original and imaginative ideas, richness and complementarity of timbres and brilliant, resolute lyrical performance.
Triple Dip repeats some of these pieces but cements the connection to the seminal, abstract and lyrical chamber jazz of Jimmy Giuffre, but, obviously, often in a more playful and rhythmic tone. This album offers eight original pieces plus the last one, an inspired cover of the standard «Love Song from ‘Apache’», made famous by the Coleman Hawkins Quartet. These pieces take advantage of the tight, collective discourse of this trio and how it employs the unique dynamics of playing without a bass to sketch melodic music, highly colored and full of nuanced contrasts, with a harmonic vocabulary drawn from various sources of 20th-century art music, whether European or American.
Ochem concludes that Roundabout + Triple Dip «takes us on board immediately, and together we dream of hoped-for territories, of spaces shared in total tranquility». He is absolutely right.
Samuel Blaser (trombone), Russ Lossing (piano); Billy Mintz (drums)