Judging by the opening track, Voice For Ages, pianist Laurent Nicoud’s expressive rubato playing might be misconstrued as diffident. But this is simply the result of Nicoud’s thought processes being translated onto the keys of the piano. If the tunes betray a degree of formality this is surely the result of Nicoud’s classical training which the 27-year-old Swiss-born pianist undertook from the age of six.
In 2001 he commenced studies at Neuchâtel Music Conservatory. In 2003 at the age of 12, he made his first appearance as a soloist playing a concerto-rondo of Mozart with Camerata Stravaganza in Neuchâtel as part of a concert series organised by the Conservatory. In 2007, he began his professional studies at Geneva University of Music acquiring his bachelor and master’s degrees over a five-year period. In 2010 he played with a symphony orchestra for the first time at Geneva University and in 2012 he played Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F with the Geneva Symphonic Orchestra.
Nicoud’s introduction to jazz came in his teenage years when, in 2007, he started playing in a group with friends from high school. By 2010 he had formed his first trio with bass and drums. In 2017 and 2018 he lived in New York City where he studied jazz and composition with pianists Jacob Sacks and Shai Maestro and whilst in Brooklyn, he also recorded Outline.
It’s noticeable that Nicoud’s right hand evinces some of the more classical-influenced lines, often sounding like speeded-up Erik Satie tunes, but his left hand often conjures-up more recognisably jazz-infused chords. So, there is a conflict in terms of genres and it could be argued that this is a form of hybrid music. But this never detracts from the overall effect and the high quality of the compositions and performances, which are subtly and surprisingly satisfying. Tracks such as the contrapuntally complex Ostinato #3 and In Front Of A Tree And A Light are evidence of Nicoud’s undeniable virtuosity.
Hear/buy Laurent Nicoud: Outline at qftf.bandcamp.com
Voice For Ages; Bird’s Levitation; Ostinato; In Front Of A Tree And A Light; Louffoque; Far Ahead; Outline; Weird Spaces; Ocean; Groove in E-Flat; 09.05.2018; One In E Major (56.44)
Nicoud (p). Brooklyn, 20 June 2018.