Jean-Pierre Zanella: Mother Tree (2002)
Montreal is justly famous for its annual jazz festival but it also has some very fine musicians that explore the music. At times it feels like the hiding of the lamp behind a bushel when it comes to the opportunity afforded them to give their talent wider exposure. It is left to the smaller, independent labels to do so and it is indeed a blessing when they go out to serve the purpose. This quintet, Daniel Zanella on drums and Guy Thouin on tabla come in for the title track, have been together for 10 years. This makes the comfort zone cozy and gives their music a flowing cohesion.
Of the nine tunes, seven are originals. The writing by Zanella and Gelfand is founded in a strong stream of melody. This makes for a nice cock-of-the-ear attitude and once the hook is in, the players take off developing their flights of invention with shifts in tempo, quirky lines, panache and the sweet feeling of involvement.
Zanella brings a flinty métier to his playing. He likes his honks and his blats but is not averse to laying down punchy lines to give a song firmer body. This trait is manifested on the free-flowing “The Last Parade of Minishtov”, where he whomps and convolutes and adds just a tad of funk pushed by Donato and Brochu. He takes to the soprano for the luminous ballad, “Mother Tree”, his notes falling like gentle dew abetted by Gelfand whose ruminations cast a quiet but beguiling spell. And yes, the tabla does add a distinct percussive atmosphere. Gelfand is an open-minded pianist. He can be vibrant and zesty as he pushes the boundaries of “Minor Injuries”, and then breathe in the gentle air of inspiration on the serene “U & I”.
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Track Listing: Minor Injuries; Jelly Fish; Dozen Matter; How Insensitive; What Is; You Go To My Head; U & I; The Last Parade of Minishtov; Mother Tree
Personnel: Jean-Pierre Zanella