Pianist Chantale Gagné isn't afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve. With each release she's become more demonstrative in the manner in which she presents her music. Silent Strength (Self Produced, 2008) was her first step, and the first look at how she functioned with the high-end rhythm section of drummer Lewis Nash and bassist Peter Washington; The luminous and stunning Wisdom Of The Water (Self Produced, 2010) came next, with Gagné adding vibraphonist Joe Locke to the shimmering mix; and now there's this forthright releaseGagné's third go-round with Nash and Washington, and her first on-record meeting with saxophonist Steve Wilson.
On Wisdom Of The Water, Gagné seemed to dance around her own designs, but here, she seems to move straight through them. To hear Gagné deliver the tight and choppy head of "Your Blues Is My Blues" with the band is to hear an artist who knows exactly who she is, who she wants to be, and where she wants to go. But where doesn't she want to go? "After You" uses Baroque counterpoint as a welcoming gesture, but it quickly shifts gears and turns into a burner; "Just A Dream" is a strolling, nonchalant jazz-tango number; The title track is a suite-like construct complete with pianistic pondering and joyous sounds; and "A La Claire Fontaine"a traditional children's song, and the only non-original on the albumis beauty and heartbreak wrapped into one, as Wilson's saxophone and Gagné's piano find common emotional ground. Those four pieces prove that Gagné isn't set on a single course, and the remaining numbers confirm it.
While there's much to enjoy here, the most memorable moments on this record are those moments when Gagné lets the music breath. It's easy to get lost inside of her gentle explorations on "Up Again" or "A La Claire Fontaine." These numbers, along with "Echoes," find Gagné and company sifting through mixed emotions in real time. It's those sounds of personal expression that are the sounds that seem to linger long after the album has come to its end.
Mystere; After You; The Left Side Of The Moon; Moon Gazing; In Time; Your Blues Is My Blues; A La Claire Fontaine; Just A Dream; Up Again; Echoes; Roach Rag.
Chantale Gagné: piano; Steve Wilson: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, flute; Peter Washington: bass; Lewis Nash: drums.
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