By Alain Drouot | Published January 2020
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.
Gang Of Three: Atonggaga Blues; Chacarera Para Wayne; Gang Of Three; Ferguson; Montaigne; February Waltz; Put Your Spikes In; Samba Fantasma; Cascadas. (51:44)
Personnel: Andrés Vial, piano; Dezron Douglas, bass; Eric McPherson, drums.