CD review: Emie R Roussel Trio – Rythme De Passage 2020: Video, CD cover

With the jazz landscape so heavily populated with piano trios, one priority for proponents might have to with finding ways to differentiate their outfits from others.

That doesn’t appear, however, to be of much concern to Emie R Roussel: on her trio’s fifth album, she and bandmates bassist Nicolas Bédard and drummer Dominic Cloutier focus their energies entirely on the task at hand, oblivious to what other trios are doing. That focused, business-like approach serves the Montreal-based outfit well on Rythme de Passage.
Some of that laser focus can be explained by the band’s history. In the ten years since its first album appeared, the Emie R Roussel Trio’s won multiple awards and played throughout the world, everywhere from Tokyo and New Zealand to Germany and Paris. The connectedness that’s crystallized through those experiences has nurtured a shared vision for the project and lucid understanding of the group’s identity.

Either one of the opening cuts would have served equally well as a scene-setter. The one chosen, “Yatse Club,” sees the trio serving up a classy, midtempo performance elevated by a memorable theme rich in grandeur and drama. To back the album’s first solo, a concise turn by Bédard, the leader switches from acoustic piano to electric before returning to acoustic for the first of many solos. Her command of her instrument is evident in the authority of her attack, but the solo’s as much distinguished by its soulful, rousing quality and propulsion. As strong is the title track, which follows an expressive piano rumination, the leader generating dense ripples across the keyboard, with a driving pulse whose intricate groove’s as much indebted to funk and rock as jazz.

Just as Rioux-Roussel mixes things up by using different keyboard timbres, so too does the bassist in alternating between double and electric. Bédard’s electric, for instance, powers the proggy “Agent Orange” with a thrust that calls to mind similarly muscular playing by Chris Squire. Bédard’s double bass playing in “Loners,” on the other hand, makes the contemplative mood setting one of the best things about it. Cloutier shows himself to be as resourceful and adaptable, someone capable of executing jazz, funk, and rock grooves whenever the material calls for it.

Many performances are high-intensity, though a few relaxed tracks also appear. A case in point is “Maltagliati,” where unaccompanied electric piano establishes a serene tone before a soulful feel emerges to nudge the material in an R&B direction, the leader even seemingly referencing Earth, Wind, & Fire’s “That’s the Way of the World” in one phrase. The similarly understated “Taniata” features a brushes-wielding Cloutier laying down a swaying foundation for extended turns by his partners, the leader venturing into Meldhau and Jarrett territories in an expansive solo.

The album rewards repeat visits for strong material like “Yatse Club” and the exuberant closer “Empreinte” but even more for the interplay between the three musicians and the individual personalities that assert themselves during the eight performances. With a decade behind them, the three sound on this forty-seven-minute set like a trio in its prime as well as a distinctive exemplar of the jazz piano tradition as it currently stands.

01. Yatse Club (Emie Rioux-Roussel) [6:56] 02. Rythme de passage (Emie Rioux-Roussel) [6:48] 03. Agent orange (Nicolas Bédard) [4:27] 04. Maltagliati (Emie Rioux-Roussel) [6:14] 05. Taniata (Nicolas Bédard) [5:31] 06. Est (Emie Rioux-Roussel) [3:36] 07. Loners (Nicolas Bédard) [6:33] 08. Empreinte (Emie Rioux-Roussel) [6:06]

Emie Rioux-Roussel: Piano & Keyboard
Nicolas Bédard: Double bass & electric Bass
Dominic Cloutier: Drums

Album Rythme de passage, Emie R Roussel Trio | Qobuz: download and ...

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