Fables is Canadian pianist-composer Bryn Roberts’ first album as a leader in more than eight years, during which time he functioned mainly as a sideman. In a press release he says that he picked up a “melodic directness” during those years as an accompanist for all manner of artists, and indeed it is his affection for a memorable tune that dominates. For the occasion Roberts recalled fellow Canadian Seamus Blake, the saxophonist on the prior studio set and a wise choice. They share that fondness for lyricism and an innate knack for feeding off one another’s cues—the title track, especially, serves as a showcase both for Roberts’ reflective moodiness and Blake’s intensity. (Another Blake, drummer Johnathan, also burns on this track.)
Make no mistake that Fables is Roberts’ moment though: In “December,” a brooding ballad, it’s he and bassist Orlando le Fleming sharing the floor, and Cole Porter’s “In the Still of the Night” is rendered with vigorous swing by the saxless trio.