Manel Fortia: Despertar

In a set of original compositions, the Catalan bassist and band take a modern view of the interactive style of the Bill Evans trio


The trio heard here continues in the tradition of the tightly integrated piano, bass and drums unit pioneered by Bill Evans with his 1961 Village Vanguard recordings. Working very closely together, the group has produced a contemporary version of the three-way improvising trio where all the musicians are of equal importance.

Dormir sets things off and running, the piano taking the lead to start but giving way to the bass halfway through. Fortia plays lead melody on many of these selections, supported by a rhythm section of piano and drums. It isn’t confined to just bass and piano leading though: when Pannier takes a complex drum solo, the pianist becomes his accompanist as Mezquida maintains a solid bass line.

The trio expands and develops the Evans idea. Circular follows a circular pattern from the pianist as bass and drums contribute equally. Espiritual begins with heavy stick strokes on the drums before Mezquida digs into sanctified chords. The piece gradually evolves into a solid, conventional blues with bass and drum interventions. Crescente begins as a piano piece but soon becomes a group effort. Then we hear a piano solo followed by a bass segment and finally all three come together to see the selection out.

Fortia spent time living in New York and claims on the liner that living in that city changed him tremendously. It helped him fashion these nine original compositions and all except Dormir and the title track are dedicated to NYC connections – Astoria, Harlem and Grand Central are just three examples.

This music is pure improvisation in a present-day development of the piano, bass and drums trio as it has evolved in the past sixty odd years. It is firmly in the mainstream of jazz development and owes nothing whatsoever to the rock, funk or fusion variations that have appeared over the same period. It is contiguous with the tradition of Art Tatum, Bud Powell and Evans and takes it towards the future.

If you like your jazz pure, this is for you. But be warned, the music takes no prisoners. Given this set, it would be interesting to see what the trio do with a programme of jazz and popular standards.

Dormir; Circular; Saudades; Espiritual; El Día Después; Crescente; Aires De Libertad; Simple; Despertar (53.27)
Fortia (b); Marco Mezquida (p); Raphaël Pannier (d). Girona, no dates listed.
Microscopi 232