Jo-Yu Chen Trio: Incomplete Soul (2012)
Chen is not a cautious artist. More than any other format except for solo piano, the art of the piano trio is one in which the personality/artistic vision of the leader can't help but rise up unadorned. Chen hasn't let her classical background constrain her: "Chess 1" slides back and forth between reverie and adventure over some inspired drum work from Tommy Crane, who punctuates the steady foundation with which bassist Christopher Tordini augments Chen's percussive angles.
The title tune searches, with Tordini's big notes bouncing off Chen's succinct phrases, while "Improv 1" flies out over the edge, the trio bursting into flight in a fractured and fractious mood that coalesces into a tranquil fadeout.
The Chen-penned "Love Letter" opens with a five-note bass declaration that sets the stage for a somber mood which sounds like love of the wistful or unrequited kind, while "Tipsy Cat" has the jauntiness, bravado and devil-may-care attitude of incipient intoxication.
The compositions on Incomplete Soul are mostly Chen's. She has a gift for a memorable melody and true voice of her own, and writes a killer rock song with "Follow Me." Hers is, indeed, a piano voice to follow.
Track Listing: Wandering Songstress; Chess; Incomplete Soul; Improv 1; Black Forest; Love Letter; Tipsy Cat; Departure; Improv 2; Dreamer; Follow Me; Improv 3; Red Bean.
Personnel: Jo-Yu Chen: piano; Christopher Tordini: bass; Tommy Crane: drums; Andy Lin: erhu (1).
Record Label: Sony Music
Style: Modern Jazz