Aki Takase / Christian Weber / Michael Griener: Auge

Dan McClenaghan BY

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Aki Takase / Christian Weber / Michael Griener: Auge
Pianist Aki Takase had a hand in the creation of one of 2020's top jazz CDs: Slow Pieces For Aki (Intakt Records), by her husband and fellow pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach. She suggested a set less involved in the speed, volume and intensity that was Schlippenvach's customary avant-garde approach. He answered with a twenty-one tune recording of ever-shifting beauty and down tempo restraint.

Takase—with partners Christian Weber, on bass, and Michael Griener playing drums—opens 2021 with an answer to her husband's set with Auge, the eponymous debut of the trio.

Pianist Bill Evans was the one who revolutionized the piano trio approach, equalizing the input of his drummer and bassist in the line-up in the late '50s and early '60s, an approach he continued with until his passing in 1980. A good percentage of modern piano trios owe a debt to Evans, though many, including Takase's Auge, take the sound in a different direction.

Takase—who does not claim a leadership role in the trio—can be described as mercurial. The sound of Auge reflects that. Of the fourteen tunes presented here, five are Takase compositions. The rest are group improvisations. On a blind spin of the disc, it probably won't be obvious which is which. The entire set carries a quicksilver quality, full of quirky, constant shifts, nova-like star bursts of energy, whimsy and humor and joy, glistening interludes—all this following the solemn, dark-toned ballad that opens the set, "Last Winter," that makes the beaming-with-life, mystery-of-existence mode of most of the set all the more compelling.

"Who's Going To Bell The Cat?" may or may not be a nod to pianist/composer Satoko Fujii, who released a trio album with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black in 2002 titled Bell The Cat (Tokuma Japan), leading into the frenetic "The Ends Justify the Means," closing things on a very different note, with a rhythm that skitters around bumping off the walls like one of those unmanned little disc-like vacuum cleaners, that has short circuited, and gone completely crazy, while still maintaining its focus on its mission, on a higher level of intensity.

Track Listing

Last Winter; Drops Of Light; Are Eyes Open; No Tears; The Pillow Book; Face Of the Bass; Calcagno; Out Of Sight; While In Rome; Motion In the Ocean; And If Not, Why Not; Underfelt; Who's Going To Bell The Cat?; The Ends Justify the Means.


Aki Takase: piano; Christian Weber: bass; Michael Griener: drums.

Album information

Title: Auge | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Intakt Records

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