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Guillaume de Chassy: Piano Solo

Budd Kopman By

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Piano Solo, which took a long time to come to fruition, is a marvelous set that manages, in a mysterious way, to convey as much about pianist Guillaume de Chassy through his music as the wonderful interview does through words.

The relationship between music and words is complex and writing or talking about music at times seems utterly pointless. One of the joys of jazz is that you never know what wonders will be presented to your ears and mind from the CD you have just put in the player. Ruining the possibility of that experience with words, however well meaning, is not to be done lightly.

Nevertheless, these words must be said: the playing on this album is some of the most directly communicative and deeply moving that one will hear. The emotions expressed are extremely honest and very deep, with every note and phrase set perfectly in place.

However, this perfection does not sound stilted—a delicate balance is achieved between in-the-moment improvisation and planned composition. Piano Solo has something of the feel of a classical recital, mostly because de Chassy avoids all of the stylistic mannerisms that are associated with commonly understood jazz playing. Despite this, the music constantly surprises, especially with the use of dynamics, and the perfection is seen only in retrospect. This is jazz and this is improvisation but the style is extremely personal and unique.

An interesting comparison can be made between this recording and one by Stefano Bollani of the same title (ECM, 2007). Bollani's virtuosity cannot be questioned, but there is a reticence, a space between the performer and the listener, that is all but invisible in the playing of de Chassy; he is playing for you, and you alone.

Perhaps this is due to de Chassy's admitted love of melody. His compositions and improvisations contain logic on the large scale that a melody brings to the music on a smaller scale. At times one can hear him singing, very softly, the very line he is playing, enjoying his creation as much as we do.

Of particular interest are the two tunes that might be familiar—"Ugly Beauty" by Thelonious Monk and "I Wish I Knew" by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon. De Chassy does not merely cover these tunes, but transforms them in such a way as to make us see them anew.

Piano Solo is one of those rare albums that enchants from the first note and seduces more with each listen. De Chassy is simply marvelous.

Track Listing: Slava; Cantique; Valse Dombelle; Ugly Beauty; Lune; Valse Bulgare; En Attendant Constance; Parenthese; Recapitulons; I Wish I Knew.

Personnel: Guillaume de Chassy: piano.

Title: Piano Solo | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Bee Jazz

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