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Saturday, April 25, 2020

CD Review: Bruno Heinen Trio - Out of Doors

Bruno Heinen (piano/Fender Rhodes); Andrea Di Biase (bass); 
Gene Calderazzo  (drums) 
(Review by Chris K)  

Make no mistake, some clever and significant stuff here from the Professor of Jazz Piano at Trinity Laban.  Heinen’s erudition is well established: his parents worked with Stockhausen in the 1970s, and a previous album saw his sextet work over Stockhausen’s Tierkreis (12 Signs of the Zodiac). With the pianist’s roots in impressionist classical music, this album is a suite using the same eight Hungarian folk melodies used by Bartók for his 1920 Op. 20, 8 Improvisations.   

So, you might imagine my trepidation listening to this new CD, and new trio, for the first time – thanks Lance!  

My fears were confirmed by the first track, What Happens Now?,  with sparse and repetitive piano over free drums, held together by the smoother bass of classically trained Di Biase, who also has a top pedigree in European jazz, having been part of Kenny Wheeler’s last group. 

The second, Devils’ Ditty,  is also far from straight ahead, with a nursery-rhyme scale tossed between piano and bass and twisted in time and structure, building to a frenzied drums and bass work out. Fool in the Grave stretches to long sections of arco bass, stretching my patience in the process.

The Wave, followed working a conversation between fragmented bass and piano over militaristic snare patterns from the lively Calderazzo.  

The second four tracks are a revelation though – and much easier listening, thank God! Look Before You Leap reprises the scale motif, but this time with a groove and lively counterpoint between Fender Rhodes and bass.  Past/present showcases Heinen’s distinctive playing style: blocky chords interspersed with right hand chords and runs – all in dreamily shifting metres, yet retaining a groove.  

The best is kept till last: the final tracks are up there with the most engaging and beautiful you could hope to hear. Mirror indulges Heinen’s solo piano, with limpid meanders evoking a pastoral Kit Downes. The closer, Homecoming, is a skipping and swirling romp in five (and/or seven?!) with the band intimately locked in to the catchiest tune you could imagine – most unexpected after the early numbers! 

Optimistically, the band plan to tour,  passing through Gosforth Civic Theatre on Thursday 2 July although that remains to be seen. I’d certainly give them a go on the basis of the second half of this album!  
Chris Kilsby 
Release date: 22.05.2020 Heinen Records HRBHCD01     Recorded September 2019  

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