Triosence is a piano trio active on the European jazz stage since making a name for itself in its native Germany in 1999. On When Time Stands Still
, the band joins forces with West Coast jazz vocalist Sara Gazarek
for a recital of twelve original tunes. The music is mostly penned by Triosence pianist Bernhard Schüler, with Gazarek and Schüler combining their talents to provide the lyrics. Gazarek has penetrated these electrons previously with her well-received release, Yours
(Native Language, 2005), and has a versatile voice well-suited for both jazz and pop, two genres expertly married on this collaborative album.
This is very much a "New World" recording. There is a distinct flavor of the Caribbean islands on "Summer Song " and the opening "I Can't Explain," with songwriting recalling everything from James Taylor
to Norah Jones
but set against a reggae backbeat. Gazarek sings with a neo-country zeal that mirrors the thousand ships Jimmy Buffett launched so long agovessels on which he has continued to capitalize. Guest guitarist Vitaliy Zolotov grounds the song in jazz without losing any of the islands along the way. Drummer Stephan Emig breaks out with some white-hot polyrhythms.
"Summer Song," is the type of island tune Kenny Chesney has been trying to make since first having heard Buffet's Havaña Daydreamin'
(ABC Dunhill, 1975) but without success because of Nashville's addictive need for cuteness. Conversely, "Summer Song" is a fully grownup song, both musically and lyrically, that retains its youth through experience by recalling what it is to be young. Schüler's piano is pregnant with punchy block chords borne infectiously in the rhythm and melody of these beautifully pandemic songs. He is able to decorate his simple songs with the complex, much in the same way as pianist Markelian Kapedani on Balkan Bop
(Red Records, 2011).
The Schüler/Gazarek team is equally suited for the ballad challenge. "You're My Spring" may be the jazziest song in the collection, melding well with the contemporary "Morning Star," where the group again edges into James Taylor/Dan Fogelberg/Norah Jones territory without ever falling headfirst into the well of pure pop. Not that this would be bad, but the formula achieved by Triosence and Gazarek on When Time Stands Still
is a fine one indeed, succeeding where scores of previous attempts at such a cross-over have failed. Is it jazz? Is it pop? Or is it a hybrid? Who cares? It is a collaboration that works, and one that works better than we deserve.
Personnel: Sara Gazarek: vocals; Bernhard Schüler: piano; Ingo Senst: bass; Stephan Emig: drums; Frank Haunschild: guitar; Vitaliy Zolotov: guitar; Andria Chang: violin; Lara Müller: vocals.