Jazz CD Reviews

Chantale Gagné – Wisdom Of The Water

An appealing offering from a new Canadian pianist.

Published on May 20, 2011

Chantale Gagné – Wisdom Of The Water (2010) 45:41***½:

(Chantale Gagné- piano; Joe Locke – vibraphone; Peter Washington – bass; Lewis Nash – drums)

Winters in the Province of Quebec are long, cold, and dark, so unless you are a hockey player, indoors is the place to be. Perhaps that might help to explain why so many highly-regarded jazz pianists come from the Province, where practicing in the winter was probably not a hardship. For example, in the ‘50s Oscar Peterson, Paul Bley, and Oliver Jones came from Quebec, and more recently Francois Bourassa, Lorraine Desmarais and now Chantale Gagné.

Supported by some high profile jazz players, Gagné delivers a self -produced project filled mostly with her compositions. Blessed with a deft touch and some Bill Evans-like flourishes, Gagné can sustain interest, delivering attractive harmonies and solo excursions. The title composition “Wisdom Of The Water” is offered in ¾ time, with some engaging interplay between Locke and Gagné.  Understanding the need to impart a strong sense of musical honesty and poignant lyricism, her compositions display the requisite originality to convey the overall compositional theme. These concepts are nicely illustrated in “Over The Bridge” and “The Light We Need”. On “Squinky Pete”, the tune opens with a Locke/Gagné duet and then all the band falls in but with Locke carrying the load.

"I Shall Not Be Moved" is an old American folk tune whose lyrics may go back as far as the slave era. Presented here by Gagné and the band in a traditional reading, Nash’s brush work is outstanding and Locke expounds on the theme with inventiveness. Closing the disc with “Lullaby for Winter” Gagné reverts to her Quebecois roots to explore her feelings for that cold season.

While this disc has a smooth jazz inclination rather than a classic straight ahead presentation, it is an alluring offering made all the more so by the support of Locke, Washington and Nash.

TrackList:  Wisdom Of The Water; Over The Bridge; My Wild Irish Rose; Squinky Pete; Roseline; The Light We Need; Waking Dreams; I Shall Not Be Moved; Lullaby For Winter.

— Pierre Giroux

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