Paier Valcic Quartet ‘Cinema Scenes’ (ACT) 4/5

Combining accordeon/bandoneon and cello is not an obvious contender for a jazz recording, and this evocative and extremely creative project straddles classical and jazz and even world roots, with a strong nod to film music for which this album is ideally suited. Interestingly, nine of the twelve piece are originals, with just three covers required. The duo of accordeon/bandoneon player Klaus Paier and cellist Asja Valcic from the fulcrum of this quartet and between them have composed the majority of the pieces. On the first number, ‘Synchronization’, which begins with a melody that is quite bleak in tone, the intimacy suddenly leads into a Spanish motif that recalls Chick Corea’s early 1970’s ECM opus, ‘La Fiesta’, and the strong melody is retained throughout this atmospheric piece. A flowing cover of the music, ‘Griet’s theme’, accompanying the film, ‘Girl with the golden earring’, serves as the pretext for Paier to solo on accordeon. At the heart of the album is a four piece medley, ‘Cinema scenes’, with gentle soloing by Paier on the Lennie Niehaus/Clint Eastwood film tune, ‘Doe eyes’, forming part one, leading into a jazzy bass-led part two, ‘Moving pictures’, with bass and accordion working well in tandem. Part four pays homage to the work of Astor Piazzolla, with a staccato-like groove in, ‘Exciting moment’, with an actual cover of a Piazzolla composition, ‘Inspired tale’, following directly afterwards and being the final cover interpretation on the album. This is the fourth project that Paier and Valcic have recorded on ACT, and the combination of reflective duo and faster-paced quartet work makes for a varied and well balanced recording. They deserve to be heard by a wider audience, and, as with the contemplative, ‘Le jardin’, the quartet ought to be snapped up for an entire film’s worth of music soundtrack.

Tim Stenhouse