Album review: ade ishs Trio/ade ishs Trio

Posted: December 12, 2013 in Album review: jazz
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The cover art for Melbourne pianist ade ishs’ new Trio album is of a dark deep lake, its surface untroubled, its edges calm and waveless.

Being a visual person, images often swim though my head while listening to music. This image appealed instantly as a perfect expression of the Trio’s music and especially of ishs’ playing – calm and settled on the surface, held in place by a spiritual gravity, its smooth face belieing the many cross currents interweaving and shaping the dark waters below.

Strength without force. Power without friction.

ade ishs 2

Opener ‘Acceptance’ is a perfect manifestation. At first almost too pretty, it asserts its calm power beneath ishs’ sure fingers. Drummer Chelsea Allen and acoustic bassist Daigo Nakai supply warm undercurrents to the untroubled waters of ishs melody and soloing.

‘Night Birds’ (composed in 2002) heats the Trio with its latin-rock groove propelled by Allen’s snapping backbeat – ah, a jazz drummer who doesn’t mind a backbeat, kudos! Nakai’s bass solo on ‘Night Birds’ lowers the dynamic with no expense to the groove.

ade ishs (lowercase respectfully observed) says of the Trio: “I’m trying to avoid having the piano always the front liner. On this recording the bass and drums are all front liners on different tracks”. As well as a nice balance across the album between the three – as all good piano trios must have, from Bill Evans down – Nakai also features prominently on the driving waltz ‘For What It’s Worth’ and Allen delivers more of that tough backbeat on the short, sharp shock that is ‘The Differing Sky’.

ishs’ own playing reminds me – although they are vastly different players technically and stylistically – of Dave Brubeck (of all people). The smile that is across his solos, the sometimes pugilistic attack, the open-heartedness, never afraid to play pretty but also never afraid to drop a dissonance, sweet-and-sour – the things I love about dear departed Dave I also love about ade ishs.ade ishs 1

After several solo piano recordings, this is the pianist’s first with his Trio. The lovely solo piece ‘Understanding’ makes me keen to check his solo albums. Truly beautiful, the pace of this measured and deeply meditative performance slows the worlds to its tempo – the openness and poised spaces in its intro and outro are haiku, breath in winter, bare trees.

As the ade ishs Trio album begins, it ends. ‘Go On 3’ is, like opener ‘Acceptance’, a calm waterway of three currents moving through time and days. It carries its stillness with assuredness, both knowing but not knowing where it is flowing to. And that is what has always made great jazz.

Published November 2103 on australianjazz.net 

 

 

 

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