by Jeff Becker
Takeshi Asai is a jazz pianist and composer that lives and performs in Europe, Asia and the U.S. French Trio, Vol. 1 focuses on melding jazz and classical in a way that yields a unique melodic musicscape. The eight tunes are original compositions from Asai. Asai’s method for success is that everything gravitates towards the trio’s sound, which is creating cohesion and clear melodic shapes and phrases. The opening “A Beginning,” imposes a sassy optimistic spirit; Asai’s melody is beautiful and the trio seems to reveal in each other’s parts. “A Midspring Night’s Dream” is an elastic waltz which conveys the trio’s dexterity; this is one of the tracks where Asai flexes his solo chops.
The tender slowness of “Intro” is a nice contrast to the pace, Asai’s solo piano playing is beautiful and calls to mind the sounds of impressionism, and well it is the French trio after all. The pace is picked up with “I Remember the Castle,” Asai’s playing is fiery, Combeau’s solo is revealing in hyperactive and the trio seems to exude liveliness. The sound evolves into extended melodic phrases in “Snow Dance” with the piano flowing over the solid time of the bass and drums; then the closer, “Fleurette,” shimmers delicately with wonderful chords and patient phrasing building to a climax and then completing our journey. Asai has a special ability to coax freshness and meld the better of two worlds, all for our listening pleasure.