Jacky Terrasson “Gouache” | Universal
New York based pianist Jacky Terrasson is one of the worlds leading voices on the instrument in the context of jazz and many more genres. His achievements comprise areas of growth artists dream of obtaining and he has set the standard for compositions high with this gain in insight and experience. Originally born in Berlin and raised in Paris, his later teachings at Berklee School of Music would elevate him to the level of performance he commands. His winning of the Thelonious Monk Award is reflective of this and was a very big honorary achievement for any aspiring musician. Shortly after school, he got his first major touring gig with world renowned musician Betty Carter. From the 90′s and on he set a path out with Blue Note Records to infuse new and bold energy into the framework of the jazz community.
Jacky Terrasson is the type of piano player who has too many influences through his life to just to stick to one body of sound, ushering in different modes of sound that come from all over the world. His ability to switch to Fender Rhodes and to bring out the best in what he is using sets him a part from many contemporary jazz artists. His sophisticated approach to the piano is combined with soulful phrasing and a light speed technique that allows every note to be addressed. You can hear all the greats in his work. From Duke Ellington, Bud Powell and Keith Jarrett to Ahmad Jamal, Chick Corea and Bill Evans and so many others, Jacky Terrasson has extended his 20 year career to be rightfully included in the list of greats now.
I was first introduced to the talents of Jacky Terrason in the early 2000′s on the handful of Blue Note Records LP’s he released. As trio recordings, the weight and balance relied heavily on what he had in his bag of tools and nothing was short of astonishing in the results. Now he has turned a new chapter in his legacy in the year of 2012 with a signing to Universal French Jazz and the launching of the album Gouache. The new record celebrates his 20 year career in a joyous and straight ahead manner, pushing the boundaries of technical and creative music. Gouache brings together many colleagues of Jacky’s from Paris’s stage (Michel Portal, Stéphane Belmondo, Minino Garay, and singer Cecile McLorin-Salvant) for a ride that is simply amazing.
All of the tracks on Gouache are powerful and move with the weight of the seven seas, culminating a bridge into jazz culture that is all inclusive of the most important pathways of this sacred music. Latin jazz sits right next to straight ahead jazz excursions while others take on a shade of a more experimental side. Technique and soul are bridged in perfect unison as towering, massive scale work comes out in the deepest possible way from the piano. The inclusion of organ and keyboard brings a few of the pieces into very different modes. The natural piano is a dominant standard to the record and is backed by a phenomenal rhythm section on every number. His band doesn’t drop the ball for one moment. Gouache is fourteen songs deep and is easily the best jazz album I have heard all year. The organ section and percussion solo on the self titled track is enough reason to justify the price tag and the rest of the album is just as memorable and filled with the type of twist and turns you could never predict.
The albums most compelling and beautiful piece comes in the song “Je Te Veux”, featuring vocalist Cecile McLorin-Salvant. The softly placed piano notes Terrasson places sounds like it comes from a time well before our own and the band adds a texture that is sublime. It’s this ability to capture forms of jazz music that date well before us that shine the timeless scope and relevance of the genre. “D ling” is one of those kind of songs that presents a labrynth of technique and power. Stand up bass is at full speed, locked into the fullest mode with the percussion and drums. Piano is unhinged and exploratory, pushing into territories of scale work that is all its own. You can hear the power of the chordal phrasing Terrasson achieves, playing with the kind of methodical conquering of every note possible that Keith Jarrett was highly respected for. The opening number “Try to Catch Me / Tension and Release” sets the album into high octane mode, showing the towering presence Terrasson commands into place. The cycles the music takes on is incredible and shows an essence of experimentalism that makes the music very mysterious. It snaps into different shades of the jazz spectrum on every turn than moves back to the snake like pattern that connects all the parts. It reminds me a lot of the late 60′s and early 70′s Herbie Hancock ensemble Mwandishi.
The album showers in a heavy dose of beauty with the song “La Part des Anges”, a touching and heartfelt number that displays a stunning trumpet solo from beginning to end. The lyrical approach to the piano sounds like the deep meditations into the jazz idiom of Bill Evans. Every note says a thousand words and paints a picture of a world that enlarges the scope of the music. Stand up bass and very minimal drum work anchor the music and the trumpet really opens up from the range left open. The material Miles Davis was doing with composer Gil Evans comes to mind as well when I hear a number like this. It’s a really beautiful approach to sound and brings the album down to one of its most calmest states. “Mother” is another song on the album that features trumpet. This track pushes the identity of the drums into the front of the mix and adds in a wider range of dynamics on the bottom end. It’s a beautiful and joyous track with that feel good vibe that you can’t obtain from just learning chords or notes.
Cecile McLorin-Salvant makes another vocal appearance in the piano and stand up bass feature “Oh My Love”. Almost five minutes in length, the three create a majestic and triumphant affect. The vocal and piano tandem is incredible, showing how much tonality each ones brings to the table and how it all comes together in the most perfect form. The bass is sublime and pure, keeping the song in a solid and secure state. Cecile McLorin-Salvant turns out a vocal performance that is incredible and worthy of every second of attention given to it. “Take 5″ brings Gouache to a close with natural piano, drums and stand up going into a muscular vehicle that pushes at light speed. It’s a glowing and joyful end to a stellar album that stops at nothing to show the strength and integrity of music Jacky Terrasson brings to the table and has done so for twenty years now. As an artist who has been touring the world over for two dcades, Gouache represents these travels, experiences and vast knowledge gained through out his career.
Jacky Terrasson with Cécile McLorin (vocal), Minino Garay (perc), Burniss Travis (bass), Justin Faulkner (drums) at Saint Emilion Jazz Festival 2012. Medley Oh My Love / Harry Potter / Smoke Gets in Your Eyes / Beat It / Productions: Les Fims Jack Fébus / Christophe Deghelt Productions