Working with legendary drummer Paul Motian
on her first ECM release, A Long Story
(2007), must have been a formative experience for pianist Anat Fort. On And If
, her second release for the German label, she opens and closes the set with two readings of "Paul Motian." These are inward, time-standing-still tunes, showcasing Fort's spare and spacious approach to her instrument, with the abstractly nuanced accompaniment of her regular trio-mates, bassist Gary Wang
and drummer Roland Schneider
By and large less gregarious than A Long Story
, And If
can bubble with forward-leaning energy, as it does on the ebullient "Clouds Moving." And the disc bristles with a dangerous-sounding vibe on "Nu." But ballad beauty makes up the majority of the music, with the wistful "Lanesboro," the gently-rolling "Minnesota," and the holy "En If," alongside the pensive "Paul Motian" twins.
"Something 'Bout Camels," reworked and stretched out from A Long Story
's version, gathers into existence on an eerie whine, eventually punctuated by single piano notes, leading to an evolution into mystic trio effervescence.A Long Story
, not initially recorded for ECM but brought there by Motian for consideration, set the bar high for Fort. It received lots of positive press and found its way onto year end top ten lists. Her sophomore And If
is every bit as beautiful and more personal, delivering on the promises made by Fort's wonderful debut.