Gábor Csordás / Noriaki Hosoya / Marty Risemberg ‘Swansong’ CD (Hunnia) 3/5

Originally conceived almost 10 years ago, “Swansong” brings together three musicians from 3 continents: renowned Hungarian pianist Gábor Csordás, Japanese bassist Noriaki Hosoya and Washington-based drummer Marty Risemberg. Recorded in Budapest and featuring compositions from Csordás and Hosoya, their style resembles music often heard on European labels such as ECM and ACT, with a strong sense of melody and lyrical improvisation.

There’s a sense of spirited adventure throughout this album, perhaps enriched by the long-term friendship of the three musicians, and the pleasure in finally getting to record together what is their debut album as a trio.

It matters not that the trio’s influences are certainly varied, with Csordás’ classical upbringing sitting comfortably alongside Risemberg’s Cuban roots and Hosoya’s Berklee-educated beginnings. Everything gels nicely with a wide range of ideas playing out across the album, with melody, groove and adventure spearheading the trio’s effervescent sound.

As the opening tune “Birdseye” develops, I am immediately reminded of Keith Jarrett’s classic album “My Song”. And I do keep coming back to this as the album continues, with several tunes sharing a similar sense of the uplifting joy that came with Jarrett’s European Quartet recording. If melody is the key to this first tune, there’s more of a lyrical expressiveness reminiscent of Esbjorn Svensson on the second piece “Breaking Through”, with, as the title suggests, a groove-fuelled blues vibe breaking through in the second half of the tune. “Turbulence” is perhaps one of the more original pieces on the album, with gorgeous chords and rhythms intertwining as each member of the trio gets to showcase their skills. “The Panda March” sparkles with its luminescent melody, an engaging wistful piece that makes me think of the Japanese pianist Ryo Fukui. There’s room for some lively soloing on the more straight-ahead jazz numbers “Trapped Light” and “Painting With Two Colours”, the latter benefiting from its bluesy nature. “Cradle Me” is a reflective piece that swells with emotion, whilst “Play” fully engages the listener with an early EST-like style of composition. “Koletzki” is one of my favourite tracks on the album, with its vibe more reminiscent of an exploratory Jarrett/Peacock/DeJohnette track where they explore a groove and take it on to wherever it may go. The session closes with “If Ever”, a fully immersive tune that brings the recording to an uplifting end.

Fans of piano-led jazz trios will like this album as there is indeed a lot to like. Whilst it might not set the world on fire in terms of originality, it does succeed on many levels and is, ultimately, a very enjoyable listen.

Mike Gates