Yuri Storione follows 2017's formidable trio outing, Schönbrunn, with this set of gorgeous new originals. In collaboration with Spanish saxophonist Perico Sambeat, Swiss bassist Stephan Kurmann, and Hungarian drummer Marton Juhasz, the Basel-based pianist guides his new quartet, convened in 2018, for this live recording debut. As a leap of intuition not only in technical but also compositional terms, Where Do We Start is both a deepening and a widening of the bandleader's sonic footprint.
Where throughout this album's predecessor Storione diagrammed his equations on X and Y, here he adds a veritable Z through Sambeat's sonority. With thread-the-needle precision, the saxophonist works wonders with the melodies at hand, as if each were an ember that might fade if not continuously breathed upon. Between the free-and-easy opener "Oblivion" and the cinematic moods of the closer "Mattenstrasse," the band forges an embrace of elemental freedom. Navigating a tightrope between classic and forward-thinking moods, they unfurl a dream's worth of carpet across which to tread in search of waking. Between those two signposts extends a row of way stations, ranging from the laid-back energies of "Màlaga" and "E Waltz" to the balladry of "Be My Love" and "It's Easy to Remember." The ballads evoke partly cloudy afternoons in which Sambeat's brushstrokes sprout wings and fly. The rhythm section moves brilliantly from one mode to the next, working patient grooves into submission without a hint of force. Their swing is fully textured, three-dimensional, and embodied. As in the bluesy "I Want to Talk About You," they always return, as if into the arms of a lover, to the heartbeat.
The title track's abstractions make it one of a few set highlights. Others are "Læso" (noteworthy for Kurmann's soloing) and "The Fruit," which romps with a buoyancy that leans toward Keith Jarrett's trio settings. The upbeat "Un Poco Loco" is another pianistic spotlight and shows Storione evolving a deeply conversational logic that defines his sound. Above all, this music evokes joy and gratitude, as if imprinted by a smile, ultimately answering the question mark-less title with a period-less answer, as open-ended as the listener's willingness to let it grow.
Oblivion; Màlaga; The Fruit; E Waltz; Be My Love; Be My Love (Take 2); Where Do We Start; It’s Easy to Remember;
I Want to Talk About You; Un Poco Loco; Læso; Matenstrasse.
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