Colin Vallon Trio
Colin Vallon piano
Patrice Moret double bass
Julian Sartorius drums
Recorded April 2013 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Rruga marked the ECM debut of a peerless piano trio, and with that release opened new doors for the format. Pianist Colin Vallon again joins bassist Patrice Moret, and together with new drummer Julian Sartorius they unhinge those doors in absence of need. With an even more refined geometry, one that borders on white magic, these three young men quietly draft an unforgettable statement for the 21st century. Aside from being a master class in texture and atmosphere, Le Vent mines the element of surprise as if it were ore in rock. As the trio builds its quarry, it reveals itself as a creature of ritual. If Tord Gustavsen’s trio is the x axis (marking time) and Bobo Stenson’s is the y (marking distance), then Vallon’s selfless band is the z, by which we might gauge jazz’s inter-dimensional potential.
Moret’s sole compositional offering is also the album’s most significant. “Juuichi” opens the set with pulsing, unified chords. The title is an intriguing one, being Japanese for the number 11, and could refer to many things (I’m inclined to think of it as related to the stumbling time signature that shadows its every move). Growing in brightness and presence, it builds toward quiet reflection, spawning a tide of minnows. One immediately notices the care with which the trio builds its sonic worlds, each an ode to the value of patience. These musicians prove that, while indeed the best things come to those who wait, one must make music of the waiting for art to be born.
Skipping to the album’s end lands us in two freely improvised tracks: “Styx” and “Coriolis.” Both highlight Sartorius’s delicacy with brush and wand as he un-knots planks of wood until the album’s vessel resigns itself to a beautiful sinking. In these final statements are whispers of many others to come.
Between these two shores churns an ocean of Vallon originals, of which the title track further emphasizes Sartorius’s climatic tendencies. Here the melody from the composer’s fingers crystallizes like an icicle, but not before it traces a heart on a fogged train window. Though closed, that window allows a breath of current to make its briny notes known, a scent fecund with origins. Yet each time the trio switches tracks, it sets the tundra aflame with poetry.
Moret is a thrumming force, here and throughout, providing anchorage in “Immobile” and tactility to the soft-hued flames of “Cendre.” Elsewhere, he gives validity to every state, be it the protracted undulation of “Fade,” the bittersweet “Goodbye,” or even a clouded hint of “Rouge.” He also sets off evocative interactions between piano and cymbals, which in “Pixels” are light and glass.
Like grief, Vallon and his bandmates do not deny the immovable wedge of melancholy but grow larger to contain it. They are young in body but possess old souls, each with a space for the others in the name of living.