Chantale Gagné is a young pianist from Quebec with the sound judgment to bring in Peter Washington and Lewis Nash as the rhythm section on her debut recording. Washington’s time is like Big Ben’s, and Nash’s energy is a crisp tailwind. They make Gagné’s music glide with elegance at any speed.
Gagné plays with a clear, assertive touch and a balanced, intelligent sense of form, if not much appetite for risk. Her “But Beautiful” is so orderly and methodical that it misses the song’s emotion. (Washington’s brief bass solo stays close to the melody and contains more wistfulness.) Monk’s “I Mean You” is accurate but unadventurous. Her most interesting interpretation of a standard is Bill Evans’ “Peri’s Scope,” where her displaced accents create unanticipated tension and gratifying release.
Gagné’s compositions are well made. Her uptempo and funky tunes (“Second Wave,” “In My Mind”) sound generic and vaguely familiar. Her slower stuff is stronger. “Tranquilité” and “New York Nights” sustain intense, quiet reveries as they patiently unfold their stories.