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Jean-Michel Pilc Trio at The Jazz Bakery

Jim Santella By

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The Jazz Bakery
Los Angeles, California
March 18, 2005

One influential factor in the winning formula that pianist Jean-Michel Pilc has adopted for his modern mainstream trio is the eye to eye contact that the threesome utilizes continuously. Drummer Tony Moreno had set up his kit so that he faced the pianist throughout the evening. Similarly, bassist Darek Oles positioned himself so that he could maintain eye contact for their Jazz Bakery concert set. With this little secret in hand, the trio proceeded to explore familiar music and one daring original composition with authority. Their impressive outing left no doubt that the pianist's credentials demand a concerted listen. As with all things in life, the concert performance far outweighs the recorded evidence. You've got to experience Jean-Michel Pilc in person to fully understand how powerful his impact is on the current state of mainstream jazz.

Pilc began the Friday evening program with "If I Should Lose You," "My Favorite Things" and "Afro Blue." By paraphrasing each melody and exploring the keyboard's extreme regions, he was able to avoid any kind of connection to "same-ol', same-ol'" interpretations. The pianist's fresh reconstructions were clearly extraordinary and had a profound effect on the audience. Oles and Moreno took their creative solos in turn and helped the pianist generate a rare evening of fine art.

Turning to his soundtrack for the Jacques Bral film Spring in Paris, Pilc brought a vast array of musical impressions to the stage. The trio explored repetitious boleros for thematic emphasis, as well as highly volatile episodes to accompany the film's more dramatic moments. Beginning with the piano's impression of a precious music box, the score rose and fell with emotional turmoil. There's no need for swing or bebop in this film score: just plenty of excitement. Moving through exotic soundscapes and a concentrated flow of seamless phrasing, the pianist and his partners brought it all to life. Pilc even crossed his hands at the piano's keyboard for several crucial moments, in order to keep the melodic flow going strong and even, without any kind of unnatural break. The film is undoubtedly one fine love story.

Closing with a spirited paraphrase of "St. Thomas," the trio bade goodnight to an audience that's determined to catch Jean-Michel Pilc on his next trip to Los Angeles, and to bring all their friends. His performance is one of those essential parts of living with jazz.

Visit Jean-Michel Pilc on the web.


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