RODRIGO AMADO / KENT KESSLER / PAAL NILSSEN-LOVE – The Abstract Truth

European Echoes

A jazz trio has by now become something of a commonplace. The format at the basis of several past masterpieces is reduced to a vehicle for showcasing futile virtuosity hiding a depressing absence of compositional ideas, typically underscored by that kind of swinging pulse that does not clarify if the rhythm section is made of geniuses or just a shelter for people who can’t even keep a steady pace in a music piece.

And yet, as we listen to The Abstract Truth, there’s room for hope. That’s because the principals look interested in introducing a welcome measure of rationalization in their playing, rather than abandoning themselves to the bacchanalia of “let’s get lost in a meaningless rowdiness”. For starters, the saxophonist – tenor and baritone – is one of those soloists not scared of showing disaffection for the fraudulent aspects of bebop imagery, acuminate shards of fragmentary, at times repetitive melody pushing the phrasing in close proximity to intuitive drawing without causing exhaustion. In “The Kiss” the interaction with Kessler and Nilssen-Love is perhaps at its maximum level of intensity, the bassist’s constantly grumbling arco and the drummer’s abstemious percussive consistency projecting the tunes against a white wall where every figuration is perfectly delineated and utterly comprehensible. A remunerative regeneration of prismatic instrumental brightness which appears to be totally gone in many similar circumstances.

Still, when Amado wants he’s got power to spare: the sturdy baritone in “Universe Unmasked” shows that, coming the right juncture, the will of getting down in the dirt is there. Kessler and Nilssen-Love sustain that particular moment of inspiration with elegant authority – entirely deprived of invasiveness – in seven minutes of extraordinary lucidity fuelled by well-channelled energy, the solidity of the interplay never dissipating into free gimmickry, the instruments maintaining the respective features fully visible.

Dissertations that do not weigh upon the shoulders of our patience, intelligence remaining in sight throughout. A refined album that nevertheless doesn’t sound politically correct, an example of cleverness and self-restriction generating results that are definitely superior to destined-to-oblivion burnouts.

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