Anat Fort needs no introduction. A regular on the New York jazz scene for the past couple of decades, she just released a new album, Colour, under the Sunnyside label, and which marks her twenty year anniversary with her trio. More of a performer than a recording artist, this latest album of hers was definitely worth the wait.
Accompanied by bass player Gary Wang and drummer Roland Schneider, Anat Fort offers us an exquisite album of emotional depth and keen jazz sensibility. Both Wang and Schneider are unobtrusive elements throughout the album, with the exceptional short solos as on ‘Sort Of’ or ‘Free’ and yet, there is a level of interplay between the trio which is spectacular, best demonstrated in the edgy ‘Tirata Tiratata’. In fact, the song comes as a surprise compared to the other tracks in regards to mood and tempo. It is much livelier, offering a fervid dialogue between the piano and the drums. Fort is undoubtedly teasing the drums which lend themselves to the game, offering a particular pulse always in perfect synchronicity with the piano. It is also the only song on the album which, I feel, does not possess that improvised quality to it; it is well structured and controlled. Not that it diminishes its musical quality or enjoyment in any way but, unlike the other tracks, on ‘Tirata Tiratata’, Fort does not defy the ordinary.
The album opens with ‘BBB’, a song which starts in a minimalist way but develops smoothly. Backed up by rumbling drums and soft sweeps in the background, she cranks up the melody in seamless ripples, letting it float before pulling it back and taking control of it. As a first introduction to Fort’s piano, I was mesmerized.
I love her lyrical melodies where space is so prevalent; where she trims all unnecessary notes to achieve one perfect sound. The album feels, for the most part, improvised as she brings to life unexpected phrases, where each note played is a statement of beauty. It is as if she uses the elements of space and time to choose that note before she plays it, in turn giving the listeners breathing space to grasp the beauty and preciseness of it. Her playing is elegant, sophisticated, honest and Fort has this uncanny ability to make notes linger on after she plays them.
Whether it is on the languorous ‘Sort Of’, the fluid ‘The Limp’ or the melancholic ‘Goor Katan’, the album is full of images and aural caresses. Anat’s piano is more than expressive, it is intimate. It runs on clean lines, scattering trails of notes that leave the listeners with an indelible impression and emotions. The music is ethereal and fragile and yet, far from weak.
My personal highlights are ‘Goor Katan’ and ‘Part Solo’. The former is full of sensibility and soft details and I enjoy the abandon she allows herself on it. The latter is proof that you do not need a complicated melody to provide a rush of emotions. It is bursting with poignancy. In fact, it is so breathtakingly beautiful there is no need for any other instruments, which renders it more impressive than its previous take, ‘Part Trio’. Fort’s vulnerability is almost tangible as if she was performing a very intimate soliloquy.
Colour is more than just a palette of sounds; it is poetry. As a newbie to Fort’s music, I am more than glad I gave this one a chance. Colour is a listening pleasure that will dig deep into your soul and bring solace to your mind.