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November 2007

Jacky Terrasson
Mirror
Blue Note Records

It is easy to hear why Jacky Terrasson is often cited as an influence and inspiration by other young pianists. Track by track on Mirror, he postulates problems for himself, solves them brilliantly, and demonstrates what is pianistically possible if you have chops of doom. “Caravan,” in 7/4, is all chordal explosions and jagged breaks and lurches, an epic deconstruction. “Just a Gigolo” pays direct homage to the clanging tremolos and pregnant pauses of Monk’s famous solo versions, but is much more boldly abstract. The ironic modulations of “America the Beautiful” create complex political undercurrents.

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Kayshi Shinn

Jacky Terrasson

But sometimes Terrasson’s enormous facility, his fascination with degree-of-difficulty, calls unnecessary attention to itself on pieces that are intended as personal emotional expressions, like the originals “Little Red Ribbon,” for a friend who died of AIDS, and “Tragic Mulatto Blues,” about Terrasson’s mixed heritage. On two relatively quiet, simple ballads, he proves that, when he keeps his craft from dominating his art, he can be a sublime pianist. “You’ve Got a Friend” may be that song’s deepest, truest instrumental interpretation. “Everything Happens To Me” is hypnotic. Terrasson says he loves Chet Baker’s version, but his own response to the song is more like Art Pepper’s in its lyric purity and existential loneliness.

Originally published in November 2007
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