Vadim NESELOVSKYI Trio – Get Up and Go – BluJazz

Vadim NESELOVSKYI Trio – Get Up and Go – BluJazz 3449 – 61:00, (1/20/17) ****½ :

Terrific compositions which span jazz and classical sensibilities played by a first rate trio.

(Vadim Neselovskyi; piano, melodica/ Ronen Itzik; drums, percussion/ Dan Loomis; bass/ Sara Serpa; voice (4,11))

The title of the Vadim Neselovskyi trio debut release “Get Up and Go”, suggests an attitude of brisk enterprise. While there is a bench on the cover, there is no one sitting on it. Apparently, they have gotten up and gone, leaving behind a single red ball and dusting of pigeon feathers. The first thing I look for on a recording is “All compositions by…”. It is a sign that we may be lucky to discover a complete and unknown musical world.  Presumably, Mr. Neselovskyi, an instructor at Berklee College of Music, does not need to demonstrate to his students the finer points of the American Song Book; Instead, he offers eleven of his own compositions, each one ambitious in design and ranging widely in mood and expressive reach.

The opening track On a Bicycle is predictably about velocity. Unlike Joseph Haydn, who can make a durable melody out of 12 notes, Vadim employs about a thousand for an involved exposition of his pedaling theme and its swerving counter-subjects. The bass and drums do not merely rattle behind but race alongside with admirable precision. The same tendency toward prolix virtuosity asserts itself on the title track which unfolds themes long and dense with musical ideas at a high level of inspiration. There are a few Transdanubian accents to be heard as well as melodica. Improvisational passages are marginal to the flow of the piece as contoured by an exacting score.

The technical prowess of V.N. suggests classical training. His stylistic refinements point towards a more than passing acquaintance with Scarlatti and Scriabin. A substantial piece Krai in the middle of the recital, for me the heart of the recording, underscores classical ideals. This is a six-minute work for solo piano which sounds fully scored out, although the spirit is vivaciously improvisational in character.  Not much in current jazz writing approaches this level of formal design. Nor would “jazz” be an especially helpful term for this piece of art.

The bass player, Dan Loomis is very good and is given a brief Interlude I to demonstrate his deep voiced lyrical playing. Israeli Ronen Itzik is equally well-chosen for the challenging drumming chores. He is alert to every shift in the music and plays with economy and dynamic nuance in the several meditative pieces. Prelude for Vibes reminds me of the joyful playing of Marcin Wasilewski. It is a fantastic groove with superb improvisational energy from Vadim while the bass and drums aspire to the Ornette Coleman dictum “everybody play the melody.”

At Audiophile Audition, many of us are apt to look with skepticism on the inclusion of the guest vocalist. As I thrill to the purity of Mr. Neselovskyi’s musical project, I await with some misgivings the arrival of  “-voice (4,11)”  hoping that it is at least in Ukrainian or Hebrew and that it won’t be vocalese. But vocalese is exactly what is on the plate. On Station Taiga Sara Serpa is asked to sing the simplest of melodies with the most minimal backing. Her voice is lovely, vibrato-less and yet finely tuned. As it reaches for its highest note, there is a precarious feeling, a teetering on the edge, which elicits the support of a melodica entering to support (or blanket) the voice. It is an odd notion but scarcely disturbs the aesthetic rigor of the whole. The last piece, Almost December, features the vocalese again and this time the melodica stays in its case. A long piece at 6:45, it carries its solemn beauty with grace avoiding again the intrusion of personality in a design in which the voice is just another instrument. By the end, it significantly shifts my appreciation of the entire recording, a tribute to potency of the singing and playing. It is worth noting that the composer is as gifted at simple lyrical statements as he is at note-heavy polyphonic material.

In short, this is a extremely fine outing by the trio which introduces a modern composer of uncommon gifts. I hope this group will work together on future projects. In the end, I might recommend some fiddling with the piano sound which is suffers on the high end with some brittleness which bites the ear on percussive upper register playing. On the other hand, the balance between bass and drums is a great achievement. Overall, a fantastic record.

TrackList: 
On a Bicycle; Winter
San Felio
Station Taiga
Who is it
Krai
Interlude I
Prelude for Vibes
Get up and Go
Interlude II
Almost December

-Fritz Balwit

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