Europe has many pianists who were classical players before they were jazz musicians. In their music, two sensibilities often coexist. One serves received ideas. One serves ideas as they become possible. One requires discipline. One requires faith in the moment. There are fewer such pianists in the United States. One is Dahveed Behroozi. The intellectual refinement of his structures reflects his postgraduate classical education. But Behroozi says his pieces come “out of … improvising at home.” He brought only sketches to the recording.
In fact, his improvisations sound like compositions (“Imagery”) and vice versa (“Royal Star”). He is a pianist whose firm spontaneous forms win your trust. You sit back and follow him as he explores the keyboard and comes upon small constellations of notes, sometimes as few as one (“TDB”), that render his thoughts and emotions. He makes bare dark melodies. Pieces like the two versions of “Chimes” are different in intensity but embody the same paradox: that forceful music can contain so much rapt stillness. Echos is only Behroozi’s second record, but it presents a composer/improviser in possession of important new understandings about lyricism and about the conjuring of haunting atmospheres. He is a pianist who gets under your skin.
The impact of this trio album is inseparable from the contributions of bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Billy Mintz. Very few rhythm sections in jazz can contribute so much intuitive creative content to an ensemble while remaining true to the leader’s intentions.
The only reservation has to do with sonics. Echos was recorded in one room with no isolation. Musicians love to record this way, and their music is of course the priority. But without isolation of the bass and drums, three instruments sound stacked on top of one another. Discrimination and resolution suffer.