Áron Tálas Trio: New Questions, Old Answers

Hungarian pianist leads his bass and drums trio through a variety of situations, including the juxtaposition of Erik Satie and a rock beat

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Hungarian pianist Áron Tálas is the complete jazz musician: a singer and drummer when required (not on this album) and a trio leader who moves forward purposefully by involving his colleagues in each direction he takes at the piano keyboard. They are many and varied.

Like Bill Evans – and what modern piano trio isn’t part-influenced by him? – Tálas conveys a pervasive spiritual feeling. With Evans it was a barely suppressed melancholy; with Tálas it’s more plaintive, despite the substantial resources he commands as a classically trained musician and the dynamism such a background permits and encourages.

Unlike many others so schooled, he puts everything energetically at jazz’s disposal. Typical is the resolute tread he establishes with bassist Istvan Tóth in Tevemenet and the right-hand figures that run puppy-like around its feet; or the crescendo built on the steady rock beat of Elastico and delivered as an essential component of the theme. Both are the instinctive actions of a musician who knows what resources to call on and when.

That overarching wistfulness informs Hargrove, which sets elegiac feeling against a mid-tempo movement and in which remembrance and homage are marked first by the clarity of embellishment and improvisation and then by a late, two-fisted tremolo that builds tension without deserting the initial mood.

The title track is harmonically rich and almost antiphonal, its pace never slowed by the fertile pianism or the close attention of bass and Lászlo Csízi’s discreet drumming. Old Soul’s folky waltz time moves ahead from its theme with accumulating emotional depth. The Choice You Never Had sees the piano setting up variations in tempo and moments of quietude, all buttressed by rocking left-hand chords. Afrosatie is an amusing, if unlikely, juxtaposition of Afro groove and limpid, Satie-like melody. The Visitor is a chart whose irresolution allows for a range of possibilities.

Tálas and others fly the flag for jazz in Europe as well as for European jazz. Two different things. A super album.

Discography
New Questions, Old Answers; Hargrove; Old Soul; The Choice You Never Had; Elastico; Tevemenet; Rain; Cnile Kinlu; Afrosatie; The Visitor; To Be Continued (45.35)
Tálas (p); István Tóth (b); László Csízi (d). Budapest, 1-2 November 2022.
BMC CD334