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Chris Gestrin

Chris Gestrin

If a pianist’s treatment of “‘Round Midnight” can act as a barometer, carefully gauging a player’s actual worth on a tune impossible to fake, consider Chris Gestrin worthy. The Canadian pianist dropped Monk’s homage to the witching hour two years ago on Trio, his second disc for Maximum Jazz, and successfully tapped the standard for all its playful loneliness.

Knowledge of Gestrin’s ability to handle a standard ought to keep naysaying trad-jazz champions quiet when they hear the pianist’s debut Songlines disc, Stillpoint. Electronically generated atmospheres swell and fade as Gestrin finds his way through its dozen tracks with help from a band as reluctant to play too many notes as Gestrin himself. With its Moogs, samples and many-millisecond delays, Stillpoint sounds spacious, a quality further enhanced by Songlines’ SACD/CD hybrid pressing. And because the album lacks the head-solos-head arrangements of Gestrin’s earlier efforts, listening sort of puts you in the director’s chair. “It’s like a soundtrack to a film that doesn’t exist,” Gestrin explains. “I want people to be taken on a journey into their own imagination, and Stillpoint will be the soundtrack.”

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