179

St: Coincidences

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
St: Coincidences Creating music to accompany visual arts is nothing new. Soundtracks to film often act as equal partners—just imagine Hitchcock's shower scene from Psycho without Bernard Hermann's piercing strings, for example. However, adapting music to literature is an altogether rarer concept. Film leaves little of the visual to the imagination, while writing often relies heavily on one's ability to create personal imagery. And so, music for film usually serves to enhance a director's specific vision, while a musician's interpretation of literature is inherently more personal to the musician's view.

French pianist Stéphan Oliva's Coincidences is quite possibly the most intimate inward look that he's ever recorded. Previous Oliva projects have interpreted music by jazz artists Lennie Tristano and Paul Motian, in addition to film music by Hermann, Krystof Komeda, and Nino Rota. In each case, while the interpretation is pure Oliva, there's a distinct reference from which Oliva's own re-imagining stems. Here, inspired by the writings of American writer Paul Auster, Oliva digs deeply, not only into the images and emotions that Auster's writing suggests to him, but the writing process itself.

The disc is cleverly bookended by two songs. The album starts with an ethereal "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, where bassist Bruno Chevillon—who guests on three of the disc's eighteen tracks—"plays an Olympic typewriter to create a kind of smoky ambience suggestive of Auster in a dark room, writing. Oliva's impressionistic "La Traversee follows—dark, spacious, and beautiful in a melancholy way. The order is reversed at the end of the disc, with a reprise of "La Traversée leading into a recap of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, leaving us where we entered—with the author in a room, writing.

As an album of largely solo piano music, Coincidences draws you in from the first note and—like a good book—leaves you, after 47 minutes, reflecting on what you've just experienced. On this series of miniatures—some as short as one minute, none exceeding six—Oliva isn't afraid to exploit the barest of ideas, gradually letting them unfold and evolve like a character in a novel. "Portée Disaparue builds from a three-note motif, with Oliva using dissonance to effectively evoke an eerily unsettled feeling. "Annotations is more song-like and more innocent; while "Ghosts of the Stereoscope combines the unfailing beauty of the latter with the darker mystery of the former. Elsewhere, on tracks like "Olympia's Lullabye —with Chevrillon returning to the typewriter—Oliva uses Fender Rhodes to create a delicate sense of forward motion... the writer on a roll.

Oliva's discography offers plenty of evidence that he's an outstandingly imaginative and facile player. What makes Coincidences a contender for solo piano album of the year is its aversion of overt musical gesticulation. Instead, it's all about mood, ambience, and atmosphere. Through total submersion in his conceptual goal, Oliva has created an album transcending music alone—like the best film score—both a perfect adjunct to his imagination of Auster the writer and a strongly compelling work in its own right.

Track Listing: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes; La Travers

Personnel: St

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Studios La Buissonne | Style: Modern Jazz


comments powered by Disqus

Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Vaguement Godard
Nur/Nicht/Nur
2013
buy
Film Noir
Nur/Nicht/Nur
2010
buy
Lives Of Bernard...
Nur/Nicht/Nur
2010
buy
Stéréoscope
Nur/Nicht/Nur
2009
buy
Pandore
Nur/Nicht/Nur
2008
buy

More Articles

Read This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People CD/LP/Track Review This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Nigerian Spirit CD/LP/Track Review Nigerian Spirit
by James Nadal
Published: May 29, 2017
Read The Colours Suite CD/LP/Track Review The Colours Suite
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Les Liasons Dangereuses 1960 CD/LP/Track Review Les Liasons Dangereuses 1960
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Chapter Five CD/LP/Track Review Chapter Five
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 28, 2017
Read The Hive CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "Expanding Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Expanding Heart
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 21, 2016
Read "Layers" CD/LP/Track Review Layers
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 1, 2016
Read "Magia" CD/LP/Track Review Magia
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 6, 2016
Read "Rímur" CD/LP/Track Review Rímur
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 1, 2017
Read "Jazz Jukebox" CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Jukebox
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: November 24, 2016
Read "December Songs" CD/LP/Track Review December Songs
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 16, 2016

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!