Santiago Leibson Trio - Episodes

Label: Fresh Sound New Talent, 2018

Personnel - Santiago Leibson: piano; Matt Pavolka: bass; Mark Ferber: drums.


Santiago Leibson, an Argentine pianist based in New York, leads a new trio with bassist Matt Pavolka and drummer Mark Ferber on his new outing, Episodes. The follow up of Out of Order, an album recorded last year, along with bassist Drew Dress and drummer Devin Gray, features eight originals treated with tight interplay and shaped with a peculiar sonority that illustrates their musical qualities.

Advocating tranquility, Leibson opens the album with “Go”, where he carves an angular melodic riff in the style of Misha Mengelberg onto the nonchalant swinging surface created by his trio mates. Fragmented piano phrases, relaxed and filled with rhythmic intention, draw back and let the bass talk before the restitution of the theme. Other swinging incursions were detected on “Basement Complaints”, whose elegant nature reveals some connections to Herbie Nichols, and “Salida”, an uptempo jaunt to the realms of Herbie Hancock, where we find Leibson inventing rhythmic figures during the bar trades with Ferber.

Despite the inaugural collective thump and piano trills, “Gentle Push” promotes stagnation and discretion and never really looms into motion. In a similar fashion, “Vagon” feels docile in its presentation, slowly promenading with bass-piano unisons and suggesting a vague, spacious atmosphere reminiscent of Paul Motian. Contradicting the premise, the tune drops its vaporous state in favor of a more solid swinging form.

Second Movement” hints at classical music in its early dreamy phase, but then spirals into intransigent interval risings à-la Chick Corea. This mutation happens right after Pavolka’s improvisation, genially patterned with underlying chromaticism.

Mechanically agitated by an odd-metered Brubeckian groove, “U#5” advances with melodic stumbles until disrupted by a calm rubato passage. The pure acoustics heard here continues with some mystery on “Weird Doors”, which closes out the album with piano legato in a poised 3/4 context.

Although it might not be noticed straight away, Episodes is a swinging album with abundant evocations of past grandeur. Thence, the trio of performers lay bare their solid command of time and space to create new narratives.

Grade  B+

Grade B+

Favorite Tracks:
01 - Go ► 03 - Basement Complaints ► 04 - Second Movement