Pianist Gabriel Latchin makes playing jazz sound easy. That’s “easy” as in “enviably relaxed”. At the same time, or perhaps as a consequence, his keyboard demeanour appears sophisticated, elegant and untroubled, and his treatment of tunes notable for their neat packaging and finish. Everything in this trio album – his second – is just-so, not least the placement of his colleagues.
The foregoing may be what the man himself means when he says in the album’s puff: “There is something perfect about the instrumentation of piano, double-bass and drums. The combination just fits somehow and, in my opinion, has a timeless quality”.
Well, not only in his opinion. Latchin’s trio opts for safety and well-tried formal structures, drawing on a secure pianistic facility to create interest: note the almost throwaway cascade at the start of Poor Butterfly, with its subtle harmonising of the theme and the pianist’s exquisite comping behind Dario Di Lecce’s bass solo; or the ladder-climb to the theme of Baubles, Bangles And Beads; or the leisurely drift through Polka Dots And Moonbeams in which Latchin astutely stays on top.
However, Só Danço Samba is reached with the feeling that the trio’s delivery is often in want of fire; one returns to the start to realise that the bop feel of Arthur Go has had its boppish teeth drawn, perhaps because it was written by Latchin for his first son; the bookending final track, Pippy’s Delight, for his second. The whole album is inspired by his young family. Could that be why cool composure has settled, even when the trio swings, which it does with purpose?
Latchin also says in his blurb “Following in the footsteps of innovators such as Bill Evans, Ahmad Jamal and Herbie Hancock, among others, is no easy task for a pianist these days”. One doesn’t have to follow footsteps so much as take a different route. Maybe that’s what he means.
Arthur Go; Poor Butterfly; Peek A Bu; Brigi, My Dear; Baubles, Bangles And Beads; Polka Dots And Moonbeams; Só Danço Samba; In Love In Vain; Zambia; Ill Wind; Pippy’s Delight (50.21)
Latchin (p); Dario Di Lecce (b); Josh Morrison (d). London, 21 February 2018.
Alys Jazz AJ1502