Andrés Vial

Gang Of Three
(Chromatic Audio)

Montreal-based pianist Andrés Vial embraces an aesthetic that seems torn between modern American and European jazz, even as his compositions on Gang Of Three are informed by a much greater variety of music from all over the world.

Some song titles readily give away those influences: The melancholy “Chacarera Para Wayne” (an homage to Wayne Shorter) is based on an Argentine folk dance and displays Vial’s talent at weaving a rich melodic and harmonic fabric out of a rather simple theme; and “Samba Fantasma” is a subtle take on the Brazilian staple. But the highlight here is arguably “Put Your Spikes In,” a piece rooted in mbira music of the Central African Gbaya people, with a recurring and surprisingly angular theme that allows Vial to put his stamp on the piece.

As a composer and an improviser, the bandleader constantly is focused on melody. Throughout the trio date, his solos often are well-paced and thoughtful, and serve his design. Bassist Dezron Douglas’ muffled sound is a perfect foil to the pianist’s bright delivery. But because he’s not restricted to a purely rhythmic assignment on the album, drummer Eric McPherson successfully takes on that role—particularly during the spectacular introduction of the Shorter tribute.