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Jacky Terrasson: A Paris

Recorded in France and featuring both French jazz artists and French compositions, you’d expect pianist-composer Jacky Terrasson’s homage to his hometown to be more exuberant. Instead, the wistful, lyrical A Paris sounds like a yearning mediation on the City of Lights rather than a celebration.

Terrasson opens with a sparse trio reading of “Plaisir d’Amour” in which the prayerful vibes oozing from his piano, and the plaintive groove by his longtime rhythm section-drummer Leon Parker and bassist Ugonna Okegwo-tingle with nuances of Abdullah Ibrahim’s music. Terrasson manages to simmer the tone down even more on the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” and Barbara’s misty “Nantes” and “L’Aigle Noir.”

Terrasson can still send sparks, however, with the slightest touch thanks to his fleet rhythmic playing, as on Francis Poulenc’s “Les Chemins de L’Amour.” The pianist then goes for broke on a riotous retooling of Narciso Yepes cinematic classic “Jeux Interdits,” which finds guest alto saxophonist Stefano di Battista taking an impassioned ride on the Trane. Thanks to Minimo Garay’s multitracked percussion and Terrasson’s halogen-heated Fender Rhodes, “La Vie en Rose” becomes a lounge-calypso shimmy. While that uptempo spirit is too infrequent, A Paris is still a shining conceptual achievement.

Originally Published