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Walter Lang Trio: Eurasia

Dan McClenaghan By

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German pianist Walter Lang is big in Japan, with Eurasia being the sixth CD released there on the M&I Records label. A listen to any of these discs reveals something for the discerning taste of the Japanese jazz fan.

Lang records mostly in the trio format—piano, bass and drums—and his approach in this setting can be said to fall in the interactive Bill Evans Trio mode, with a graceful lyricism, a supple use of touch, and an exquisite feel for engaging melodies, on both the tunes he chooses to cover and on his own original compositions.

The set of music on Eurasia embraces the theme of a road trip across the great expanse of the Eurasian continent and begins—for no other reason than to open with a beautiful melody—in America, with Pat Metheny's nostalgic "Last Train Home." Spare single notes by Lang paint a poignant picture, expanding, as the trio-mates enter the tune, into a passing landscape of ephemeral beauty. A jump across the Atlantic lands in the familiar "Ack Vaermaland" (Dear Old Stockholm). A visit to Yugoslavia features Dusko Goykovich's rhythmically insistent "Nights of Skopje," while "Ringo Owake" represents Japan.

The set also travels to France with "Que Reste T'il De Nos Amours" (I Wish You Love), Italy (Bruno Martino's "Estate"), Spain with the Lang original "Madrid After Dark," Turkey (Belalim), and Greece (Omorfi Poli).

In a group of tunes originating in diverse cultures, the universal language of melody is the thread that ties the set together. Lang has a fine ear (and two magical hands) for an engaging melody, and his trio—he works with at least three, including the modernized drum 'n' bass dance groove group, Trio Elf—is as simpatico and interactive as any that can be heard in the piano trio format.

Eurasia is a beautiful, first rate piano trio set—one of the best of the year, and with its release Lang has risen to the top level of jazz piano artistry.

Track Listing: Last Train Home; Ack Vaermaland (Dear Old Stockholm); Nights of Skopje; Ringo Oiwake; Que Reste T'il De Nos Amours (I Wish You Love); Estate; Madrid After Dark; Belalim; Omorfi Poli; Traveling Far.

Personnel: Walter Lang: piano; Thomas Markusson: bass; Sebastian Merk: drums.

Title: Eurasia | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: M&I

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