The name of this Jim Black Trio could easily have been ‘Quicksilver’ because the trio epitomises everything unpredictable and swiftly responsive. Embodied in The Constant it also revels in music of the highest quality – and that demands exceptional instrumental skills. Just a few bars into the leading song on this album it becomes that the musicians in this trio have this quality in spades. This ten-part suite brings special attention to the skill that Jim Black brings to the Art of Songwriting. His singular voice is contained in the manner in which he poses altogether different challenges in terms of phrasing, architecture and pacing.
The trio finds a fine balance between lyricism and buoyancy, applying judicious flexibility to lines while maintaining narrative cohesion. The dotted rhythms and knotty harmonic twists have a welcome experimental edge and this seems to find the musicians well-prepared for this as each exudes zest in performing them. Many of the parts contain surprises around every corner, as the composer lets his imagination soar through curious shifts in metre, harmony and form that jolt and delight the ears in equal measure. But extravagance and virtuosity also are employed to more subtle effect, with the players spinning long lines coloured by delicately applied ornaments, and altering dynamics and phrasing to highlight the music’s expressive beauty. The four parts of a song that spells ‘H.O.M.E’ is a treasure in this respect.
Everyone in the trio commands attention, from the celebratory arpeggios and slithering runs employed by pianist Elias Stemeseder and Thomas Morgan’s woodsy double bass to the rhythmic wizardry of Jim Black whose hands evoke movements of drama, menacing, mysterious and fiery atmospheres as he lights up and animates every phrase of his compositions in these ten rewarding songs. All this on an album that swings and thrills.
Track List: High; Song H; Falls; Chinchilla; Medium; Song O; Song M; Song E; Low; Bill.
Personnel: Jim Black: drums, composition; Elias Stemeseder: piano; Thomas Morgan: bass.
Label: Intakt Records
Release date: August 2016
Running time: 49:40