Pianist Jacky Terrasson's 2012 album Gouache is an eclectic, playful, and often beautiful album that showcases the pianist's lithe, technically adept jazz skills alongside a handful of guest artists. Terrasson is a gifted composer and improviser in a variety of jazz idioms, from straight-ahead, standards-based jazz to more contemporary and even avant-garde styles. He brings all of this to bear on Gouache. While Terrasson's virtuosic piano chops are the focal point of the release, it is also his choice of excellent sidemen here, including trumpeter Stephane Belmondo and bass clarinetist Michel Portal, that helps make the album such a buoyant and joyful listen. This is especially true on his ruminative version of John Lennon's "Oh My Love" and the positively swoon-inducing Erik Satie chanson "Je Te Veux," which both feature vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant. Winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, Salvant is a gifted, nuanced singer and here, singing in both French and English, she draws upon the languid, bittersweet influence of Billie Holiday, while always keeping a smile in her voice. Jazz pianists reworking modern pop songs has become de rigueur in 21st century jazz circles, and so Terrasson's choice to cover Lennon, as well as such radio hits as Justin Bieber's "Baby" and Amy Winehouse's "Rehab," isn't in-and-of-itself unique. However, with his painterly, impressionistic style that often brings to mind a mix of such influences as Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea, Terrasson is an interesting match for this kind of pop repurposing, and his reinventions never sound anything but clever and inspired. To these ends, he turns "Baby" into a jaunty sleigh ride of song, with a euphoric '70s R&B ballad midsection. He also gives "Rehab" a slow, Horace Silver-sounding jazz-funk treatment that finds him moving from piano to Fender Rhodes. Elsewhere, Terrasson's original compositions reveal a passion for melody and groove, paired with an adventurous, flowing, stream-of-consciousness post-bop aesthetic that ultimately makes Gouache a pure joy to hear.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar