A gracious yet adventurous air of then and now hovers over, under, sideways, and down on The Kind of Happy One, Swiss pianist/composer Marie Kruttli's fourth disc. It's an expanding calm, a welcoming sense of command and form from a young artist finding her place in the music and its long heritage.
Yet "Back to Blue" starts off The Kind of Happy One with bassist Lukas Traxel's sinister, recurring riff into which rising-through-the-generational-ranks drummer Jonathan Barber quickly breathes into and scaffolds, only for Kruttli to pull the whole back from the dark brink. It's a dexterous, artful move, alert with speculation and resolve. The tune, like the rest of the album, then rolls with an organic confidence that's a pure joy to listen in on.
Kruttli, coming classically from the exoteric realm of Anton Webern but with all the personality and tonality of Andrew Hill or Art Tatum, displays a distinctive, yet rapidly evolving, emotive language all her own. Often coming in from behind the beat to stir it up or set sail the groove. Spot-on pinpoints include "Buried Giant," a thoughtfully laid out sequence of harmonic overtones upon which Barber and Traxel provide a master class in the discipline of control. The earthy, yet irresistibly whimsical flights of "Lichthaus," "L'Intrepide;" and the jumpy title track and the sustained melodic grace of "I Hate To Be Taken As a Stupid Person" (how do you not love the title?) which just so happens to spotlight Barber's charismatic restraint ala Jack DeJohnette are defining gestures. Add the enervating closer "Poppy Seed" and there's several reasons to give The Kind of Happy One over to repeated listenings as an artist emerges to stake her claim.
Back To Blue; Buried Giant; Lichthaus; L'Intrépide; Sad Song; The Kind Of Happy One; I Hate To Be Taken As A
Stupid Person; Poppy Seed.
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