A boldfaced quote from the late Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa—“The role of the artist is to not look away”—adorns the inside cover of the CD version of pianist Randy Ingram’s fourth album, a trio set featuring Drew Gress on bass and Jochen Rueckert on drums. The album, as its title and that quote suggest, is meant to voice Ingram’s way of dealing with the state of affairs we all find ourselves engulfed in these days, and Ingram’s challenge here is how to convey those powerful feelings with music that does not include any lyrics that would spell it out.
Ingram and his accompanists rely on their emotional states to accomplish that goal, and how each listener takes it all in will, of course, vary accordingly. What one may interpret as anger could easily be construed as frustration or bleakness by another. An ethereal or serene passage could represent hopes and dreams or, perhaps, sheer exhaustion.
It’s also possible to listen to these exquisitely performed pieces, all composed by Ingram, without attaching any significance to them at all, to let the music simply serve as music, with no particular meaning to imbibe. There’s an urgency and a constant momentum to Ingram’s chording in the title track, which opens the proceedings, and the rhythm section plays it bold and fierce. Have they all just come from watching the day’s news? Maybe, maybe not, but there’s a forcefulness in the statement that can’t be denied. “Sleep Little Clark” sings lyrically like a lullaby, more optimistic than fearful of the future, but peaceful. The title of “It Won’t End This Way” may portend doom and gloom, yet there’s a brightness in Ingram’s piano runs that suggests it means just the opposite. Take it in however you like; either way, it’s a worthy listen.
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