Reis/Demuth/Wiltgen: Places in Between – A Review

The Jazz Piano Trio

As regular readers know, I’m always on the lookout for new piano trios, as it is one of my favorite art forms.

The trio I’ll be writing below isn’t new to me, I already discovered them with their previous album, which was simply titled Reis/Demuth/Wiltgen and released on the French label Laborie Jazz.

Reis/Demuth/Wiltgen 

The naming of the band isn’t very complicated to explain, as we have Michel Reis on piano, Marc Demuth on bass, and Paul Wiltgen on drums.

All three come from Luxembourg, the small place in the middle of Europe known to most people as a tax haven, and somehow next to Brussels and Strasbourg host to some of the EU institutions. Beyond those clichés it’s actually a beautiful little place.

I really liked their first debut album on Laborie, so I was very curious to hear their latest release, which came out some weeks ago in August.

Places In Between (Double Moon Records 2016)

Reis-Demuth-Wiltgen Places in Between Double Moon 2016

So how do I like it? Well to be honest, I liked their previous album better, I found it more inspiring.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a well done jazz trio album. You can really feel that the three musicians are well connected, this isn’t some collection of stars just put together for one album.

So what’s my issue with it? I guess it’s probably the songs. All are “nice”, but I don’t know, they leave me hungry for more.

More of what? If only I knew. I guess this won’t be the most useful music review I’ve ever written, as I keep rambling without giving you anything concrete. There are nice moments, e.g. the melodic developments on Joule’s Last Glimpse, the light swing of The Story of You and Me,  or the excellent drive of Paul Wiltgen on Shai. 

And it is really hard to put my finger on it as there’s really nothing wrong with the album.

I’ll just leave it at that and recommend their 2013 album instead, and wait if the new album grows on me. It has happened before.

 

Reis/Demuth/Wiltgen Laborie Jazz 2013

My rating: 3 stars (could eventually turn into 4 stars, let’s see) for Places In Between, and 4 stars for Reis/Demuth/Wiltgen.

You can download the former album here (Qobuz).

 

UPDATE Sep 10, 2017: It seems like Places In Between is now hard to find beyond the Itunes store.

Shai Maestro – This Avishai Cohen Alumni Will Go Places

Avishai Cohen

You cannot write about Israeli Jazz without mentioning Avishai. This bass player from Jerusalem probably is the most prominent Israeli Jazz musician, after being “discovered” by nobody less than Chick Corea back in 1996. Personally, unfortunately, I’m not such a big fan of his albums, there are some individual tracks that I really like, but there isn’t a single album I really love throughout.

Shai Maestro

Luckily, he in turn discovered Shai Maestro, when needing a piano player, and he hired him pretty much directly out of school apparently. Talk about risk-taking, but well done! You’ll hear Maestro playing the piano on Gently Disturbed, Sensitive Hours, Seven Seas, and Aurora. During this time, Maestro relocated to New York City, probably a smart choice for a Jazz musician.

Then, in 2011, at the tender age of 24, Shai Maestro decided he wanted to launch his own trio, together with Jorge Roeder (from Peru) on bass and Ziz Ravitz (Israel) on drums, and they launched their first album, simply called Shai Maestro Trio, in early 2012, on the French label Laborie Jazz.

Shai Maestro Trio Laborie Jazz 2012

I had heard Shai Maestro shortly after that on his first European tour, and fell in love with the music immediately. From what I could see during the concert, the guy is not only abrillant musician, but also very modest and humble

Since the debut album (pictured above), Maestro has recorded two more albums, The Road To Ithaca and Untold Stories (the latter including some live tracks), both are very good, but his debut still is my favorite album.

There is just such a beautiful mixture of evolving melodies, some Middle-Eastern influences, and a great understanding of the piano trio tradition (legend has it Shai discoverd Jazz at the age of 8 with an Oscar Peterson album), that you just don’t stop listening to this beautiful album.

And if you get the chance to see him live, go for it. The handful of live tracks on Untold Stories gives you some idea on what to expect, but the additional time and freedom the trio has live just creates something very very beautiful. They really interact as if they’d been together for decades.

This is one of the few musicians where I’ll safely buy any future album blindly. He’s only 28 now, so we’ll hopefully be enjoying many more albums in the future.

My rating: 5 stars (yes I know, I keep giving 5 stars quite often recently, but it is just so much more fun writing about the truly outstanding albums).

You can download it here.