Jun 23 2014
Sophomore trio release from pianist Kekko Fornarelli, one of the more exciting standard-bearers of the New Piano Trio sound. His first foray into the trio setting, Room of Mirrors, was one of the best things to come out in 2011. A treatise on how far a strong melody can carry a song through any kind of terrain, it also accentuated the value some tasteful electronics and effects can provide a small group session. On his newest, Outrush, Fornarelli focuses more on generating harmonic intensity, with the melodies, still strong, but riding the coattails rather than leading the charge.
If Room of Mirrors was the act of riding a melody down a twisting winding river, then Outrush behaves as the surges of waves rising up and crashing down upon the shore. A different perspective might be to say that Fornarelli’s trio debut was more Esbjorn Svensson; his newest more from the school of Mehldau. But either way, Fornarelli has two very strong efforts under his belt in his first two recording sessions as trio leader, and listening to those albums back to back, one can hear the development of an individualistic form of expression.
Arguably the strongest track is “Drawing Motion,” which strikes a nice compromise between the melodic demands of the previous album and the harmonic goals of the newest. The strongly crafted melody is repeatedly referenced, either in whole or just with a wink of the eye, even as the swell of intensity continues to build to a peak. The ebb and flow, triggered by the most lovely arco from bassist Giorgio Vendola, allows both aspects to regroup and come back even stronger with the next surge.
“Weeping Souls” gets right to the heart of this album. Short, repeated phrases that suddenly bloom into pretty melodies, sprouting up from a rich harmonic soil. Drummer Dario Congedo continually shifts gears, yet maintains a fluidity that enhances the song’s grace.
Meanwhile, “What Kept You So Late” shows that Fornarelli hasn’t lost his touch with the electronic embellishments, bringing the tempo to a sizzling boil. And “Like a Driftwood” displays Fornarelli’s talent at synthesizing heartbreak down to its barest elements. A sole vocal track, “Don’t Hide,” has some appeal, especially when guest vocalist Roberto Cherillo matches the bursts of intensity from the piano trio with a Thom Yorke style of accompaniment.
A very enjoyable album, and an interesting marker in Fornarelli’s development as trio-session leader. Definitely someone to keep attuned to.
Your album personnel: Kekko Fornarelli (piano, fender rhodes, synth), Giorgio Vendola (double bass), Dario Congedo (drums), and guest: Roberto Cherillo (vocals).
Released on Abeat Records.
Jazz from the Bari, Italy scene.