Pokaz Trio: Kintsugi

Friedrich Kunzmann By

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A melancholic wistfulness seems to wrap itself around every bar and each note of this trio date by the Ukrainian talents pianist Andrew Pokaz, bassist Vitaliy Fesenko and drummer Yakov Taruntsov. The three virtuosi forming the Pokaz Trio dig deep into the repertoire of Eastern European melodies and rhythms to create seven original pieces that make up the gripping ride that is Kintsugi. The group's sensitivity towards dynamics, and tactful handling of shuffling rhythms in exchange with subtle melodies gives an exciting picture of where jazz is at in the Ukraine—and it doesn't disappoint but much rather impresses.

Between calm hands conducting fragile melodies on piano to gentle percussive work on drums alternating with explosive crash segments, Pokaz and his compatriots keep a careful eye and an ear on each other, in order to choose the perfect moment to add to the composition. The pieces are harmonically through-composed and constructed around either melodic motifs or prominent drum patterns. Opener "Slavonic Dance" is defined by one long crescendo that picks up some energy and sees the trio conjuring a storm before quieting down for the title cut of the record, to which the expressive piano work almost sounds painful—in a good way. The bass work is lively, though slightly drowned in the mix.

In much-needed contrast to the more emotionally heavy takes of the record, tracks such as "Elephant" or "Spark" introduce a more playful side to the music—mainly emanating from the modern drum work by Taruntsov. The former title keeps up a stubborn bass hit on the one and a reverb intense snare hit on the two right throughout, guiding pentatonic runs on the piano while the latter tune develops into a drum'n'bass groove that envelopes harmonies that are un-strange to any current sample of pop music.

There's much to discover and admire on Kintsugi, especially in terms of originality and melodic satisfaction. The final piece (excluding the piano reprise of "Kintsugi") alone shows just how many exciting musical ideas Pokaz has and how well he is able to structure them into a sound that seems familiar yet fresh and modern all the same.

Track Listing: Slavonic Dance; Kintsugi; Elephant; Easy; Spark; Sphere; Kintsugi (piano version).

Personnel: Andrew Pokaz: piano; Vitaly Fesenko: double bass; Yalow Taruntsov: drums.

Title: Kintsugi | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Losen Records

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