Jacky Terrasson ‘Take This’ (Impulse) 4/5

jacky-terrassonFranco-American pianist Jacky Terrasson took the world of jazz by storm in the mid to late 1990s with a series of recordings that re-interpreted the piano jazz tradition in a highly innovate manner. Now in his late forties, Terrasson is an established figure and one who has sought to re-invent himself within the parameters of the jazz idiom and this represents his debut for the re-activated Impulse label. The repertoire is typically eclectic, with inventive takes on jazz classics and some interesting new original compositions, and the line-up varies between trio and quintet with guitar and vocals added as and where appropriate. Not everything works, but then the leader has always strived to expand his horizons. An Afro-Cuban take on Brubeck’s anthem ‘Take Five’ is but one of two interpretations with the former a lovely alternative reading to Tito Puente’s mid-1980s Latin Jazz Ensemble version a reminder of just how good Terrasson was back in the 1990s, and the angular referencing of the tune is an astute brainwave by the leader, creating a new vibe that is a wonder to behold. In stark contrast, a solo rendition of ‘Blues in Green’, finds the pianist in an altogether more solemn mood and the influence of Bill Evans looms long in this interpretation. Less effective are some of the 1970s wah-wah guitar effects on the opener ‘Kiff’ with wordless vocals from Sly Johnson while the blues-inflected take on the Lennon and McCartney standard, ‘Come together’, works to a certain extent, but still sounds unconnected to the rest.

In general the relatively short nature of the pieces works in Terrasson’s favour for, in seeking conciseness, the pianist has been forced to focus to a greater extent on the melodicism of the individual pieces. A higher rapid treatment of Terrasson idol Bud Powell oscillates between first acoustic and then fender Rhodes keyboards and the use of hand percussion is a subtle complement to the overall texture. Piano and percussion work in thrilling unison on the Caribbean flavoured ‘Dance’ while the hustle and bustle of the trio number ‘November’ is the piece that most harks back to his Blue Note roots.

Tim Stenhouse