Will Holshouser Trio + Bernardo Sassetti – Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hymns (CF 160)
There are CDs that come along that don’t fit in with one’s preconceptions. Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hymns (Clean Feed) is one such recording. It’s a meeting of accordionist Will Holshouser’s trio with Portuguese pianist Bernardo Sassetti. Joining Holshouser in the trio is Ron Horton on trumpet and David Phillips on bass.
I can’t tell you exactly what my preoccupations were before I listened. They were a bit murky and undefined. What you get is good music, rather outside the norm of various categorical forms of “jazz.” There’s a version of a piece by famed Portuguese guitarist Carlos Paredes and there are originals.
This is music of a tonally straightforward kind. There is a European folkish element and otherwise there is no easy categorization. Sassetti plays some wonderfully expressive, lyrical piano which is seconded by Holshouser’s adventurous accordion. Horton’s trumpet plays some nice obligatto parts and forms an important part of the proceedings, as does Phillips.
There are playfully free elements, such as on “East River Breeze.” All of it reflects a careful musicianship that is in part a product of the trio’s ten-year tenure, but also of Sassetti’s palpable musical sensitivity.
It’s not quite the usual musical offering. And that difference makes for refreshing chamber jazz that shows off the considerable musical-compositional capabilities of the group. Collaborations are especially successful if the members involved come to new aural territories as a result of the inspiring presence of the fellow travellers involved. I believe that happened here. This is a set that’s easy on the ears yet substantial. It should provided open-minded listeners with much pleasure.