Anat Fort: And If (2010)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
That pianist Anat Fort is an intensely lyrical musician is apparent throughout And If; her poetic lyricism acts, in fact, as sort of a unifying theme for the entire work. A hauntingly beautiful and sublime musical opus, the disc opens with her modal composition; "Paul Motian," a tribute to her previous band-mate, where her minimalist improvisation is reminiscent of Bill Evans.
The trio goes through ten of Fort's own pieces, ranging from the sonata-like "En If" and the blues-tinged "Minnesota," to the avant-garde sounding "Something 'Bout Camels," which starts with the urgent groan of Gary Wang's arco bass, setting the mood for Fort's melancholic tale of notes and silent pauses that wax and wane, supported by the Middle Eastern-style percussion of drummer Ronald Schneider.
Wang's sound on the bass is not only the perfect anchor for Fort's compositions, it also adds an essential dimension to the collective improvisation.
Other highlights of this superlatively intense and thought-provoking record include the angular and jagged "Nu," propulsively driven by Schneider, and "Clouds Moving," which starts off as a single concept that Fort builds with angular rhythms and melodic ideas, layer upon layer, into a multifaceted and complex piece.
Schneider proves himself to be a versatile drummer, seamlessly switching between soloing innovatively and acting as the heartbeat of this trio. The disc closes with a more serene and mellifluous version of the opening track.
Wang and Schneider have been playing with Fort for a decade, and are consequently in tune with the pianist's, anticipating each other at every turn to form one of the most perfect trios since Keith Jarrett got together with Jack DeJohnette and Gary Peacock.
This is an intellectually satisfying yet emotionally charged CD, the sounds of which echo in the memory long after the disc has stopped spinning.
Track Listing: Paul Motian (1); Clouds Moving; En If; Some; Something 'Bout Camels; If;
Lanesboro; Minnesota; Nu; Paul Motian (2).
Personnel: Anat Fort: piano; Gary Wang: double-bass; Roland Schneider: drums
Record Label: ECM Records
Style: Beyond Jazz