Gaël Mevel

Danses Parallèles

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This trio is a boiled-down version of Gaël Mevel's quintet -- bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel and drummer Thierry Waziniak took part in La Promesse du Chant, the pianist's debut on Leo Records. In a smaller setting his music remains graceful and soft-spoken, but it also takes more risks. The pieces on Danses Parallèles are all meant to be waltzes, even though you may have to struggle a bit to find the three-to-the-bar feel. Waltz is a state of mind here, a place to start. It inspired the trio to do some unusual atonal ballroom music. In fact, in many pieces one gets the impression that they are trying hard to make it impossible to dance to the music -- impossible in the most poetic sense. "Le Pencheur de Balance" (The Tipper of Scales, nice title) and "La Marchande Speculoos," for instance, build their light momentum around claudicating motifs. "Judex" and "Le Temps Est à l'Orange" come closer to the material found on the previous album: surprisingly soothing for melodically complex tunes and a definite jazz feel that runs against the grain of the waltz format. Even in the freer moments of the album, Avenel sticks to his fat, vibrato-heavy fingering. He is responsible for keeping things anchored in the jazz realm throughout. By his inventive use of hand percussion in the quieter passages ("Un Oiseau sur l'Épaule," "Un Autre Oiseau"), it is clear that Waziniak would be willing to cross over to non-idiomatic free improv. Halfway through the set comes "La Valse Naturelle," over 11 minutes in duration, opening and closing with Mevel on bandoneon. It brings a different color, but ends up scattered in too many directions. But elsewhere, Mevel's writing is focused and develops a highly personal voice.

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