I’ve appreciated pianist Benoit Delbecq on these pages (see index) but I’ve never gotten a chance to hear what he can do with a trio context until now. And with the album Ink (Clean Feed 340) in my ears, the full effect of his originality hits me squarely upside my head, so to speak.
The trio is Delbecq plus Miles Perkin on bass and Emile Biayenda on drums. The three congeal very nicely with the rhythm team a perfect fit for the open and sometimes pulsating free-composed Delbecqian statements. Benoit comes through with a very poised and innovative way to be firmly jazz-based yet on the outer edges and conversant with new music ideas in the most modern sense. His touch is phenomenal, and his outlook original in a post-Bley kind of way.
Fred Hersch in the liners says it better than I can because he has explored Benoit’s playing more thoroughly and been with him in a double-trio recording (see index). And because he is Fred Hersch!
But that does not stop me from praising this one. Sometimes Benoit prepares part of the piano and by so doing can provide two voices to the mix. Those moments are really something wonderful, but then his “straight” piano playing too reveals a significant musical mind at work.
The solos revel in unexpected runs, jumps, an avant athleticism that is bracing and moving, not just a sort of intellectual set of exercises, far from it. There is a singular artistry at work with some fabulously pianistic results.
This is a pianist of importance. And this album shows us how important. If you dig the modern possibilities of edgy and wide-ranging piano trios, you owe it to yourself to grab the album!