Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

295

Achille Gajo Trio: Blue Sand

Joshua Weiner By

Sign in to view read count
As enjoyable as it is to encounter a new recording by a long-established artist, even greater pleasure can be found in the discovery of an outstanding lesser-known talent. Such is the case with Blue Sand, the new release by Italian-born, Paris-based pianist Achille Gajo and his trio. Gajo's compatriots include bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel and drummer John Betsch, who played together previously as Steve Lacy's longtime rhythm section. Gajo's playing and composing are consistently wonderful, and the empathetic interplay with Avenel and Betsch approaches that of classic trios past. Blue Sand is certainly one of the finest trio albums of the year.

Gajo is a deeply bluesy player with a clarity of line reminiscent of Bill Evans or early Chick Corea. His compositions are nicely varied and all memorable. "The Window" opens the album with a recurring piano/bass figure that blossoms outward into extended melodic explorations. An elegant bass feature for Avenel and Betsch's rolling solo over the vamp are highlights of this long track. "Test" is altogether spikier, showing the only traces of Lacy on the album, mixed here with a little chunky mid-'60s Brubeck for good measure.

The title track, a lovely ballad with gospel-blues touches, again showcases Avenel, who switches to the kora, an African harp-like string instrument, for "Korail." The interplay with Gajo's piano on this exotic tune fills the air with gorgeous curlicues of melody, while Betsch fills in the bottom end with a little extra bass drum work. Versions of Abdullah Ibrahim's "Mountain of the Night" and Carla Bley's "Ida Lupino" are stellar, but the trio saves the best for last. "Shark Waltz" (a play on Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin Dance") is alternately propulsive and wistful, with a funky main line that would be irresistible even if not driven home by such fantastic playing.

Everything about this album is first-class, and one can only hope that the indie label Piadrum can get it distributed widely enough to reach the audience it deserves. Gajo is a major new talent, and if he can keep this excellent trio together, we can expect masterpieces from him in the future.


Track Listing: The Window; Mountain of the Night; Test; Blue Sand; Korail; Ida Lupino; Rwanda; I Am Leaving; Bach to Steve; Shark Waltz

Personnel: Achille Gajo, piano; Jean-Jacques Avenel, bass, kora; John Betsch, drums

Title: Blue Sand | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Piadrum Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lux CD/LP/Track Review Lux
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 20, 2018
Read Unleashed CD/LP/Track Review Unleashed
by John Sharpe
Published: January 20, 2018
Read I Think I'm Going To Eat Dessert CD/LP/Track Review I Think I'm Going To Eat Dessert
by Jerome Wilson
Published: January 20, 2018
Read 20 CD/LP/Track Review 20
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 20, 2018
Read Roppongi CD/LP/Track Review Roppongi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Is Life Long? CD/LP/Track Review Is Life Long?
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 19, 2018
Read "Paint" CD/LP/Track Review Paint
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 7, 2017
Read "Can't Get Started" CD/LP/Track Review Can't Get Started
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 24, 2017
Read "Live In London" CD/LP/Track Review Live In London
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 8, 2017
Read "Involution" CD/LP/Track Review Involution
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 6, 2018
Read "Hide Ye Idols" CD/LP/Track Review Hide Ye Idols
by Troy Collins
Published: November 19, 2017
Read "The Wishing Stones" CD/LP/Track Review The Wishing Stones
by John Kelman
Published: November 28, 2017