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Moncef Genoud: Aqua

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Moncef Genoud was born in Tunisia in 1961 and has lived in Switzerland from the age of two. He has made nine previous studio albums. Aqua is his North American recording debut, and it introduces an important piano voice to the jazz audience in the United States.

Genoud commands the keyboard with such comprehensive technical facility that he transcends “style” in the narrow sense. Among current players, he has more in common with Keith Jarrett and Brad Mehldau than with all those who do one thing well. He has an aggressive touch, sharp-cornered lyricism and energy that lavishes meaningful spontaneous detail over every chosen form. His seven compositions here never start or go or stop where you expect, yet they vividly portray a particular landscape of feeling. “Out of the Blue” successfully pursues the elusive. “Aqua” ripples and expands. “Moncef’s Mood” looks inward to reach out.

Aqua is a quality project, with interesting recorded sound (way up close on Genoud’s piano, which never quite overloads) and intelligent support from Scott Colley and Bill Stewart. There are also three exceptional contributions from Michael Brecker, who makes frequent cameo appearances on other people’s records, and no wonder. Even on strong albums like this one, Brecker’s clarion tenor saxophone takes everything up a level when it enters.