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Augusto Pirodda: No Comment

Dan McClenaghan By

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A standard comic-strip theme presents the wise man sitting cross-legged on a remote mountain top, contemplating life, the human condition, God. A searcher from the temporal world below climbs the mountain and asks the wise man a question of profound importance. The last frame of the strip is a joke, the wise man's answer that steers the potentially sublime into the depths of the ridiculous; a good laugh at our expense. But the universal quest for truth remains constant, and is the central motivation for the creation of most great art.

39 year-old Italian pianist Augusto Pirodda didn't climb a mountain; he found his wise men, his jazz priests—octogenarian drummer Paul Motian and septuagenarian bassist Gary Peacock—in New York City.

The music this trio makes on Pirodda's No Comment is solemn and prayer-like, with an extraordinary degree of equilibrium of input between the musicians—a hallmark of a good percent of the art of the piano trio since the release of pianist Bill Evans' Sunday at the Village Vanguard (Riverside, 1961), an album on which Motian also performed. Motian's drumming—then and now—is pure poetry, leaning away from the timekeeping chore a good deal of the time to create subtle orchestral percussion worlds, hinting in the gentlest whispers of great elusive truths, seeming separate from, but augmenting, the pianist's search. Peacock—a vital artist in his own right, but most famous for his participation in pianist Keith Jarrett's long-standing Standards Trio—answers Pirodda's questions, remarks on his statements, and makes deep, vibrant statements of his own that garner succinct and well-chosen replies from the leader.

"Spare" is a key word when speaking of Pirodda's piano art. There is a folk song-like simplicity to his approach, with no wasted notes, making space a big part of his sound. The set opens with the dark-toned and gorgeously ruminative "It Begins Like This..." a collaborative, on-the-spot trio composition that was actually the recording session's sound check. "I Don't Know" is another spontaneous composition, beginning with a bass/drums duet—Peacock preaching, Motian adding a whispering chant—before Pirodda joins in, working the piano's left end, responding to Peacock's pronouncements.

Pirodda contributes four of his own compositions to the set, with "Brrribop" the most agitated and restless segment of the CD. "Ola" is the least abstract and possesses the brightest sound, with Peacock creeping stealthily through Motian's ephemeral weave, as Pirodda experiments with some dissonance.

With four previous CDs to his name, Pirodda is no neophyte, but as an acolyte of sorts to the Peacock/Motian pairing, he has taken his piano trio artistry to the highest level.

Track Listing: It Begins Like This...; Seak Fruits; Brribop; No Comment; So?; Il Suo Preferito; I Don't Know; Ola.

Personnel: Augusto Pirodda: piano; Gary Peacok: bass; Paul Motian: drums

Title: No Comment | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Jazzwerkstatt Berlin-brandenburg E.v.

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