Jazz CD Reviews
Jacky Terrasson, solo piano – Mirror – Blue Note/EMI
Published on August 28, 2007
Terrasson came to public attention when he won the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition in l993. The next year he signed on with Blue Note and has done ten albums for the label. This is his first solo project, and he had delayed and planned for going into the studio for some time.
Solo piano is a challenge for most jazz pianists, and the intense studio situation brings an added tension for many. Others, such as Keith Jarrett, seem to be encouraged by and play off the audience presence at live concerts. Terrasson uses the very low noise level of the studio to craft subtle pianissimo passages in some of his improvisations, such as in his minor-key version of Carole King’s You’ve Got a Friend. It reminded me of Robert Schumann’s piano miniatures, as well as Billy Joel’s classical pieces inspired by Schumann.
At the other end of the dynamic spectrum, Terrasson frequently jumps startlingly from such quiet playing to ferocious chordal climaxes. This is definitely not Bill Evans-style piano playing that could function as background music. There’s also plenty of unexpected twists and turns in the music. Terrasson himself admits “Anytime I play a standard, I can’t help giving the song a twist.” Caravan, for example, sets off at a 7/4 pace and has a section of interesting percussion effects all accomplished by Terrasson striking the piano in various ways. America the Beautiful gets a full share of those twists, being turned almost upside down before it is put together again at the end. And the concluding track, Go Round, throws in a quote of Happy Birthday.
TrackList: Caravan, Juvenile, Just a Gigolo, You’ve Got a Friend, Little Red Ribbon, Tragic Mulatto Blues, America the Beautiful, Cherokee, Everything Happens to Me, Mirror, Go Round.
– John Henry