Monday, May 24, 2010

Jacky Terrasson: Revived and Pushing Forward

Jacky Terrasson (piano; b.1966)
Push (Concord Music)

I really have to admit I haven't listened to a Jacky Terrasson album in a long while. I really enjoyed his first 4 albums for Blue Note. They showed incredible technique and promise. I think what really happened was I drifted away and started listening to different things. Now I think it is time for a new beginning. For myself and Jacky Terrasson.

Jacky Terrasson after 10 impressive and always critically acclaimed albums for Blue Note moved to his new label, Push (Concord Music). And with that his new beginning starts with an intriguing and sharp shot across the bow of jazz theory. Push is a funhouse ideas. The usual Terrasson beauty is applied to his compositions but are filled with a new breath of ideas. Here he utilizies gospel, blues, and funk that literally sees him pushing the envelope for what the listener usual expects from a Jacky Terrasson release.

His playing is delicate in a Keith Jarrett-Herbie Hancock manner as demonstrated on "Carry Me Away" and turns playful and funky on the tribute to his daughter "Gaux Girl". But then you also get the exquisite complexity and improvisation that shines through on "Ruby My Dear" and "Round Midnight". these are rich textures takes on Thelonious Monk standards and I'm enjoying immensely.

I really wanted to concentrate on this album allot for simply fact I really needed to reacquaint myself with Terrasson so I have been listening to this record incessantly for about a week. I knew there was something special here and it comes when Terrasson diverts from the script with soulful numbers like "My Church,' electric funk on "Beat Bop" and Brazilian flavor of "O Cafe, O Soleil". Terrasson's improvising is also at its peak throughout this album. This isn't just a wonderful album from Terrasson.

The work of his band is exceptional. The percussion and drum work of Cyro Baptista and Jamire Williams is quite and harmonically reflective. Ben Williams and the rest of the band are fantastic and aid magnificently on some of more challenging and unexpected moments of the session like "Say Yeah" and "Beat It/Body and Soul". Terrasson takes up sing on "Say Yeah" with good fun results. But it is truly out of left field combination of the Michael Jackson classic with the jazz standard "Beat It/Body And Soul" that the listener really gets a true understanding of what kind of a writer Terrasson can really be. These two very different tunes are combine and deconstructed into something really unique where most musicians would have played it straight and it would definitely come off sounding hokey.

Push is definitely what the title says but it is a delight to hear an artist like Jacky Terrasson feeling fresh and revived with new ideas and ready to take his fans and all comers into a new and exciting experience. This was a pleasent surprise for me after drifting away from his music for so long. I'm glad I returned to make a new beginning--the same as Jacky Terrasson I suppose.

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