(with Perry Robinson, clarinet/ocarina; Ed Schuller, doublebass; Paul Motian, drums)
Anat Fort is a young NYC-based pianist who grew up in Israel studying classical, but surrounded by the sounds of the Middle East. She has been part of the New York jazz scene for over a decade now, and the collaboration with Paul Motian and ECM shows that she is not just yet another new jazz pianist but an important new voice. Most of Motian’s unique contributions to jazz have been in support of pianists – Bill Evans, Paul Bley, Lennie Tristano, Keith Jarrett, Marilyn Crispell. His interactions with Fort are vital to the success of this cooperative venture, and the pianist was by her own description blown away by the opportunity to play with him. Clarinetist Robinson has played with several performers known for going their own way. The three sidemen have played with one another separately but this session was the first time all four performers were together in the studio.
Part of the support Motion gave Fort in the studio was to nix the idea of her doing some standards as part of the date. He wanted her to stay with her own compositions, and this disc presents 11 of them. Most are quiet comtemplative chamber jazz in the spare and cool ECM mood. Though extremely free in structure, the tonal center is diatonic. The theme of Just Now – heard in three different variations spaced thru the album – strikes me as having an ethnic origin, though I could never place the particular culture. Suffice it to say that the simple theme provides more than enough material for three varied versions. The Mideast flavor comes out more in “Something ‘Bout Camels,” in which Perry Robinson takes to the little ocarina – not exactly your standard jazz instrument. None of the selections actually gets uptempo or the least bit raucous, but neither is this laid-back cocktail piano fare either. I would say it’s an auspicious start for the pianist.
TrackList: Just Now, Var. 1, Morning: Good, Lullaby, Chapter Two, Just Now Var. II, Not a Dream?, Rehaired, As Two / Something ‘Bout Camels, Not the Perfect Storm, Chapter One, Just Now Var. III.
– John Henry