Le Vent, recorded in April 2013 at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio, is the second ECM album from the Colin Vallon Trio. Like the wind celebrated in its title track, the group has a subtle, insinuating power. Emerging from a still and silent place, its music can breathe gently, or steadily build pressure until attaining an eruptive forcefulness. This combining of poetic compression and quiet relentlessness was evident on the ECM debut Rruga three years ago, but with leader Vallon now writing almost all of the repertoire (although opening tune “Juuichi” is by Patrice Moret), and new drummer Julian Sartorius detailing its floating rhythms, the Swiss trio has entered a brave new space where touch and inflection are decisively more important than soloistic gesture. Melodies, unfolding slowly, are shared between Moret’s bass and Vallon’s piano. A fresh group language is being developed here, extended in the group improvisations which close the set.
Colin Vallon (born 1980 in Lausanne) has been leading his own bands since 1999. Patrice Moret (born in Aigle in 1972), joined Vallon’s trio in 2004. Pianist and bassist have also honed their musical understanding as members of Albanian singer Elina Duni’s quartet (see the ECM album Matanë Malit), where improvisation frequently takes place outside of jazz’s frame of reference. Vallon has often said that vocalists have influenced him more than other pianists. Disinterested in technical display, he savours the sound and texture of each resonant chord, each carefully placed note, as the trio’s searching improvisations move forward.
Describing Rruga in Stereophile magazine, Thomas Conrad wrote that its music was “exhilarating in its moment-to-moment open possibility and its counterintuitive relationships between freedom and structure. Themes emerge and transform and dissolve...” In Britain’s The Independent, Tim Cumming spoke of spare piano and percussive figures which could propel a listener “into vast underworlds of inexorable forces.” The idea of a lyrical-minimal, softly pulsating music with an accumulatively powerful undertow is more fully developed on Le Vent, and Julian Sartorius puts himself in service to the group concept and sense of energy flow. Sartorius (born 1981 in Thun), has been playing drums since he was 5 years old, studied with teachers including Pierre Favre, and has developed some advanced rhythmic concepts of his own. Adept at responding to any context, his recordings under his own name include his epic Beat Diary, 12 LPs of solo percussion documenting a year of rhythmic travel.
The Colin Vallon Trio celebrates release of Le Vent with a string of concert dates in Switzerland, Austria and Germany. These include the City Club, Pully, in collaboration with the Cully Jazz festival (March 1), Moods, Zürich (March 5), Treibhaus, Innsbruck (March 7), Unterfahrt, Munich (March 8), Bee-Flat, Bern (April 30), L'Azimut, Estavayer-Le-Lac (May 3), AMR, Geneva (May 17). Additionally the trio has an ongoing fortnightly series of workshop concerts at the Mokka club in Thun, presenting works-in-progress on March 3 and 18, April 1, 15 and 29, and May 13 and 27.