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Ignasi Terraza Trio: ...Live at the Living Room, Bangkok

Ian Patterson By

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Pianist Ignasi Terraza has led trios and quartets for twenty years, collaborating with Spain's finest jazz musicians along the way. He's also played with saxophone legends Teddy Edwards, Lou Donaldson and Frank Wess, singer Stacey Kent, and trumpeter Jon Faddis. ...Live at the Living Room, Bangkok documents his trio, over two nights in the Thai capital, and shows just why Terraza has been first-call pianist for top jazz musicians visiting Barcelona. This nicely varied set includes standards, calypso, bossa nova, blues, five Terraza originals and the pianist's arrangements of two Catalan folk songs.

Terraza is unashamedly old-school in his conception, influenced by pianist Oscar Peterson's graceful virtuosity, Wynton Kelly's blues, and—arguably most of all—by Ahmad Jamal's sense of space and dynamics. However, as this wonderful set demonstrates, Terraza is never imitative, personalizing a well-worn standard like Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Corcovado," whose intro he and bassist Pierre Boussaguet imbue with a classical air, the pianist's two-handed dialogue captivating. Jobim and Vinicius De Moraes's "Chega de Saudade" is also dressed in new robes, with a classical lining and swinging four-four time makeover. Terraza balances brilliant technique with a deft touch and an unerringly strong, melodic center.

"An Emotional Dance" is an invigorating example of Terraza's compositional flair, and his ability to solo at breathtaking speed without abandoning the song's melody. Boussaguet and drummer Esteve Pi are seasoned players and provide great support throughout. Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell's "Georgia on My Mind" begins with a delicate piano intro and Pi's brushes. Boussaguet provides leisurely counterpoint to Terraza's soulful playing until the half-way point, when Terraza takes the tune onto another plane by unleashing dizzyingly fast and swirling runs over strong left-hand jangling. The fast-paced workout of "Oscar's Will" draws from stride and ragtime as much as bop. The tuneful "Give Me Another" underlines that Terraza doesn't have to go at a gallop to impress.

Terraza makes a very Jamal-influenced trio arrangement of "Les dotze van tocant," a Catalan Christmas carol. Terraza has borrowed from Catalan folk before, with guitarist Miguel Llobet}}'s "El Noi de la Mar" given a jazzy yuletide treatment on Christmas Swings in Barcelona (K Industria, 2003), and he's clearly at home in this terrain. Catalan composer Federico Mompou's lovely "Canco num. 6" veers between softly voiced lyricism and vibrant trio interplay. The other Terraza originals include the dancing "Waltz for Auro," with a walking bass and ride cymbal at full tilt, and a calypso of irresistible rhythm and melodic charm, "Under the Sun." Boussaguet's impressive "Motherland," however, carries more dramatic ebb and flow, with Terraza's breathtaking virtuosity once again on show.

Former Count Basie bassist John Clayton Jr.'s "Blues for Stephanie" puts a bouncing seal on an excellent set. Five minutes of audio liner notes bear the visually impaired in mind, and run in Spanish, Catalan, English and Thai. It's a nice touch, and symbolic of the inclusive, all-encompassing outlook that Terraza brings to his music. His jazz may be firmly rooted in the tradition, but it contains a whole world of vibrant colors

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