With “53”, his 15th record in a career that has stemmed over 30 years, the pianist Jacky Terrasson signs a magnificent collection of original pieces in the form of an intimate confession, transfigured by a kaleidoscopic “art de trio”, raised to a level of innate mastery worthy of the greatest maestros in the genre.
“Why 53? – Simply because I conceived of and recorded this music during my 53rd year and on this occasion I wanted to make a record that really reflected me. At the age of 53, a man begins to feel he has reached a form of maturity, is at his peak, and so can look at life with a certain distance and see things more clearly. With this record I wanted to give everything of myself, to take risks, while assuming my career, my artistic choices, my life … and my age! “
Jacky Terrasson isn’t holding back: “53” is a record unlike any others in his rich and prolific career. It is rather a work signalling a turning point in his life; in which the pianist dares to venture into the intimate meanders of his own story, a life story that is at once tender, soothing and insidiously melancholy, while throwing himself resolutely into the unknown with experimental new collaborations and new aesthetic gambles.
And so Jacky opens up to the world and lays himself metaphorically naked. As the leading pianist he has always been, he has personally signed the entire repertoire on this new album. “Over the years I have built up a reputation of covering pieces and thereby making them my own, through a process of formal and stylistic deconstruction that can totally renew the listener’s perception of the piece. I have always enjoyed indulging in this kind of transformation. It’s my brand, we could say, but here I wanted to break with that, by proposing a musical world directly springing from my own personal compositions. Most of them are recent and I have tried to cover the wide spectrum of my preferred references and directions. “
And the result is 16 tracks magnified by dense and precise arrangements, Terrasson takes his listeners on a tour of his musical aesthetics, multiplying the moods, styles, rhythms and references to compose a prismatic universe of astonishing coherence hidden under such festive formality. His flamboyant tribute to the pantheon of great masters (Keith Jarrett in “Kiss Jannett for Me” to Ahmad Jamal, is distilled everywhere, but especially in the opening theme “The Call” which immediately propulses the album to heights from which it never comes down!
The pianist alternates with a real sense of drama, ranging from the intimate and sentimental pieces referring to his private life (“My Lys” which immediately sounds like a timeless standard or “Resilience”, the poignant homage to his mother which gently closes the album) to more groovy and robust compositions (the very pop “This is Mine” after Chaplin’s theme “Smile”; the explosive and absolutely bop “Jump”or “Babyplum” and it’s funky rhythms), right through to the ecstatic ballad fragranced by Baudelaire (“La part des anges”), or the Mozartian paraphrase inspired (“Lacrimosa “after an excerpt of The Requiem), or even the exercise in formal style (” Palindrome “) hiding behind a sophisticated melody brimming over with an emotional power.
It was then necessary to give shape and bring to life this remarkably rich and diverse material, not only by employing the appropriate orchestral formula, but by bringing on able collaborators to explore the particular character of each theme through its colours, subtle harmonic textures, all whilst ensuring the overall aesthetic coherence of the project.
And this is the other great event of this unique album! After ten years of experimenting in the studio with varied orchestral line-ups, such as his last album “Mother”, where he formed a duet with Stéphane Belmondo, Jacky Terrasson, intent on creating an intimate balance in his latest album, “53”, made the formal choice of returning to the canonical format of a piano / bass / drums trio. Yes – the trio – Jacky’s privileged vector of musical expression since his thundering debut at the beginning of the 90s, leading the unforgettable orchestra alongside Leon Parker on drums and Ugonna Okegwo on bass. “The trio is really the ideal formula for me, the one where I feel most free and which I believe allows the richest potential in creativity between individual expression and collective interaction. What I also like is the perfect blend of tone and material: the wood and the skin of the drums, the bass string of the double bass, the ivory of the keyboard … All these materials have a special colour and feel which together form a sort of sensuality that I find very stimulating!
Initially the idea was to record the entire record together with a brand new rhythm section made up of Géraud Portal on the electric bass, associated with his old friend Ali Jackson on drums, but the pianist quickly decided to multiply the perspectives to better underline the kaleidoscopic richness of his music by introducing two other talented and previously unpublished rhythmic pairs into the project. On one hand we have Sylvain Romano on the double bass and Gregory Hutchinson on the drums, and on the other, we have Thomas Bramerie and Lukmil Perez. “I felt the need for this diversity of approach and wanted at the same time to multiply the line-ups in order to lend substance to the different facets of my compositions. But I didn’t want anyone to think I was introducing a new official trio! It wasn’t my goal and so no room for ambiguity. All the extraordinary musicians that I invited onto this album were chosen for their musicality and their ability to bring something special to what I do. In my opinion, the result is fantastic and we will see later if it leads to the forming of a new permanent orchestra … “
With his latest opus, “53”, Jacky Terrasson, excited to work with his totally invested partners, delivers all the facets of a radiant, warm, sparkling music – definitely solar! – Which, while assuming its share of gravity, melancholy and introspection, continues to base most of its qualities on the movement of energy, an explosion of rhythm, generous melodies and a living space of dialogue and conviviality that is formed in the collective creation of music. Music that has become a game.