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Kasper Villaume Trio: 117 Ditmas Avenue

117 Ditmas Avenue (Stunt) is named for the address of Systems Two in Brooklyn, where the Kasper Villaume Trio recorded it. The engineers who practice their art in this studio are the father/son team of Joseph and Michael Marciano. Son Michael presided on this occasion, and, given the track record of Systems Two, it is not surprising that 117 Ditmas Avenue is the best-sounding of the 10 piano recordings reviewed here. Villaume’s piano is richer, more complex, more alive. Jesper Bodilsen’s bass goes deeper. Jeff “Tain” Watts’ drums kick harder. The trio is simply there; you don’t have to work for it.

Villaume knows his McCoy Tyner. On tunes like his own “Please Enter-Tain,” his left hand thuds and thunders and his right fidgets, and powered by Watts he generates enough forward force to flatten anything in his path.

Villaume’s assertive touch also makes ballads like “I Fall in Love Too Easily” and “Autumn Nocturne” taut with tension. The program is mostly well-chosen standards like George Shearing’s “Conception” and “Seven Steps to Heaven,” and the trio has a fresh concept for each one. The CD comes with a booklet of vivid color photos from the session, providing a fascinating glimpse into the inner sanctum of one of the world’s legendary recording studios.

Originally Published