Fergus McCreadie Trio: Stream

With water as an inspiration one might expect twee impressionism but the Scottish pianist's latest set displays strong post-bop instincts


Often compared to The Bad Plus, E.S.T. and Phronesis, Fergus McCreadie’s trio can go toe-to-toe with many of the best piano trios in contemporary jazz. Yet their remarkably assured 2018 debut Turas, recorded while they were studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, revealed a distinctively personal dimension. Often inspired by the rugged landscapes and ancient folklore of his homeland, McCreadie’s elegant compositions were tagged with a welcome air of authenticity.

Stream is the trio’s third release for Edition Records, and the music is loosely themed around water. Whether evoking fast-flowing rivulets or dark skies, each piece carries its own particular imagery and mood. Yet it is decidedly not a collection of twee impressionist analogues. Passionate, conversational and free-flowing, the music is driven by the same collective instincts as the very best post-bop jazz.

The record opens with the suitably dramatic Storm, McCreadie’s urgent theme buffeted by crashing waves of percussion as the elements close in. The gentle folkish airs of The Crossing gradually gain in intensity, Bowden’s solo interlude bridging into McCreadie’s cascading Tyneresque solo. Driftwood transforms from traditional dance reel to mid-tempo modal workout, while the intricate unisons of Snowcap recall E.S.T. at their tenderest.

Elsewhere the Township feel of Sun Pillars signals a shift towards sunnier climes, the hypnotic repetitions of Stony Gate meld folk and minimalism, and the stunningly beautiful Coastline feels positively hymnal. Yet if there is one standout track it is surely the epic Lochan Coire Àrdair, a piece inspired by the small lake and stunning vistas around the Creag Meagaidh Nature Reserve. Like so much of McCreadie’s music it transports you to a place, and that, I feel, is the very essence of his art.

Storm; The Crossing; Driftwood; Snowcap; Sun Pillars; Mountain Stream; Stony Gate; Lochan Coire Àrdair; Coastline (59.07)
McCreadie (p) with David Bowden (b); Stephen Henderson (d). Hastings, no date.
Edition Records EDN1228