By Bob Doerschuk | Published February 2021
This intriguing album begins with “Clara,” a short piece for piano and trumpet, which sets a thoughtful mood. The second track, “Parlance,” begins with an interlocking motif—played on Rhodes, bass and drums—that retains the opening track’s reflective quality, but weaves it into a clocklike counterpoint. Bandleader Frank Woeste works effectively with minimal tools throughout this piece, alternating unaccompanied keyboard interludes and solo sections, the motif pumping an ostinato beneath a trombone solo. A choir, singing wordlessly, bathes the performance in a muted play of shade and light.
These two works forecast what follows. At times, the interplay of parts borders on being too busy, so that the contrasts with contributions from the choir are less nuanced, more dramatic. On “Mirage,” this impression intensifies with a slamming beat from Stéphane Galland, his open hi-hat between each beat suggesting an anachronistic disco groove. Elsewhere, Woeste lets the deep, reverberant treatment of his Rhodes nudge him toward smooth jazz. But it all can be broken down into two elements: a dexterity at fitting complementary rhythm parts together and a sensitivity to texture. Pocket Rhapsody II pulls beauty from shadow for all to hear.
Pocket Rhapsody II: Clara; Parlance; Mirage; Wintersong; Bold; Tryptique I; Tryptique II; Tryptique III; Noire Et Blanche; Clair Obscur; Pocket Rhapsody. (47:06)
Personnel: Frank Woeste, keyboards; Eric Vloeimans, trumpet; Robinson Khoury, trombone; Julien Herné, bass; Stéphane Galland, drums; Oscar Woeste (8), Children’s Choir Maîtrise des Hauts-de-Seine, vocals.