Emie R Roussel Trio ‘Rythme de Passage’ CD (UNI Musiqc) 3/5

It’s been ten years since Emie R Roussel Trio produced their first album. Over the last decade Roussel; piano, Nicolas Bédard; bass, and Dominic Cloutier; drums, have forged their own collective personality, releasing four albums, touring eleven countries across four continents, and picking up awards aplenty on the Canadian jazz scene. “Rhythme de Passage”, the trio’s fifth album, continues the group’s adventures and offers new music inspired by their continuing journey together.

The trio’s music benefits from its own personality, in turn quiet, agitated and passionate. It’s obvious from listening to this album that the many years of performing together has brought an intuitive feel to their music. The interaction and understanding between the threesome makes for some wonderful moments, with the group interplay particularly noticeable throughout the session.

Roussel’s writing style is interesting. Whilst some tunes meander somewhat, others, like the album opener “Yatse Club” benefit from being more sharply focussed. There’s a keen edginess to tracks such as this which I really like, and the performances can’t be faulted as all three musicians thrive on the intelligence and freedom of the composer’s stylistic approach. The title track is one of the most original and inventive pieces on the album. Rolling neo-classical piano chords give a beautiful intro to the tune, with drums and bass mirroring the twists and turns of the piano as the tune develops. Whilst “Agent Orange” is more akin to an avant-garde pop tune, “Maltagliati” is much more introspective, like a reflection, fluttering and slowly cascading, lost in the essence of its own thoughts. “Taniata” is a ballad that’s melodic yet slightly melancholic in nature. The likeable “Est” has a lovely lyricism to it and allows for some splendid soloing to add fuel to its fire. The laid-back feel of “Loners” is a grower, seemingly engaging the listener more and more with each play. The closing track “Empreinte” has a wonderful atmosphere to it; free-spirited and exhilarating. It’s one of those tunes that makes you feel alive.

Although overall this album felt a little inconsistent to me, there are moments that really catch fire, making it well worthy of a listen. The undoubted musicality of this trio still has much to offer.

Mike Gates