Colin Vallon Trio / Colin Vallon

Le Vent

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Le Vent is the Colin Vallon Trio's second date for ECM and reflects a change in personnel, with drummer Julian Sartorius replacing Samuel Rohrer, who had been with the pianist since the mid-2000s. As a whole, Le Vent is more considerably more structured and present than 2011's Rruga; less a pianist's album than a trio recording. Opening track "Juuichi" comes into being contemplatively with speculative chords, brushed snares, toms, and a simple bass pulse, but begins to unfold with an economic melodic statement as both bass and drums interact and counter one another. Vallon explores his minor-shaded voicings and creates a third pulse in syncopated tandem. There is movement everywhere, but a discernible quiet center that focuses the energy from within and directs it out. "Immobile" begins with a hushed cymbal ushering in a two-chord piano vamp, played with halting restraint. By the time bassist Patrice Moret's arco enters, a hovering frame exists and Vallon looks to his bandmates to unwind his melodic ideas further with spacious affirmations and more insistent questions. The bassist drops his bow and the dance of flow and force commences in earnest. There is plenty of quiet investigative work here as well: the title track with its rippling cowbell, spare one-note-to-one-chord assertions, and woody time-keeping by Moret gradually flesh out a simple idea so completely it becomes polyphonous, as Sartorius employs a gentle sense of near swing as the tune builds along a horizontal pattern. The ballad "Goodbye" is skeletal, an impressionistic outline of a melody, with Vallon holding the center as Moret and Sartorius move through, above, and around his queries. "Fade," "Styx," and closer "Coriolis" are atmospheric exercises in group improvisation where textures and sonorities hold sway over statement. Stillness is a central component in this trio's approach. That said, it can be fluid and express itself in movement such as on "Rouge," or near static as evidenced by "Pixels." Le Vent is as focused as it is mysterious; its overall sense of contemplation points at shadowy motion under surfaces and in the margins. When taken together they create an emboldened if unhurried series of utterances in this trio's evolving musical language.

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