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Having had the chance to listen to Gentiane MG’s trio twice in the space of a few days* is a chance to see the songs she performs come to life, endowed with a new maturity and a joy of playing so infectious that it convinces all who listen that we are dealing here with an artist destined to count.

The tracks on her superb latest album, Walls Made Of Glass, bear witness to the fact that she has broken through a personal glass ceiling, now displaying a full and complete freedom, further magnified by the trio exercise, which allows her the use of more harmonic tensions than in the solo piano performance we witnessed in 2022.

The eponymous track, in particular, boasts an evolving structure conducive to fluctuating interpretations, like a body of light reflecting the thousand nuances of the day. The original composition played during both sets, evoking the fall of a butterfly, is particularly moving in this respect, so much so that the trajectory described is upward, contrary to what its title suggests.

Nourished by the graceful inspiration of Levi Dover on double bass, who brings a sensitivity synonymous with vulnerability as well as immanent strength, its overall purpose is not to evoke an endemic, remorseless fragility, but rather to find the path from weakness to strength, through a gradual taming of life’s protective and fulfilling energies.

With such an approach, artistic development is no longer totally distinct from personal development. The synesthetic aspect of the album’s pieces tends to make the initial concept a sine qua non of the musical illustration, a fundamental procedure in contemporary art, and one that avoids, in music, any repetition based on technical mastery alone.

Burning Candle” is a key work for perceiving the metamorphic character of the work, outlining the ephemeral contours of a long-term inscription presupposed by a diamond-like concentration on the instant. Gentiane MG‘s almost animistic approach is quintessential in “Flower Laugh Without Uttering A Sound“, which expresses the Argentinian glow of a communion with the very nature of creation, going so far as to confer an appearance of life on inanimate objects.

The Sunside set, longer than the one at Wilson Claude Balda’s Rare Gallery, adds “Letter To A Friend” and its intimate ambiances to an already opulent and dense discourse, along with the mantra named “The Moon The Sun The Truth“, borrowed from an oriental philosophy whose pleasantness suits the young pianist’s career perfectly.

Gentiane MG manages to arouse emotion without using the mannerist touch adopted by musicians anxious to impress their audience, her crystalline miniatures being traversed by an uncommon delicacy of touch, alternating with more forthright keyboard attacks and plated chords that enrich the musical intent without superfluous illumination.

The most striking example is undoubtedly the delicate introduction, which conjures up the image of moonlight, while the development and coda follow the path of a harmonically hieratic dramatization. Compared to Louis-Vincent Hamel, who recorded the album alongside Gentiane and Lévi, Mark Nelson has a drier touch, while being more adept at sound effects and unusual uses of timbre.

The maturity of the rhythm section allows for telluric or delicate passages, lands of contrasts within which Gentiane MG evolves with grace and a kind of hard-won assurance. From then on, she displays the full extent of her talent as a composer, assimilating the essence of timeless jazz, the band always remaining credible, while the audience is carried away by the flow of musical ideas and emotions glimpsed or revealed by a confounding art of chiaroscuro and luminous tonalities, placed under the auspices of a blossoming tree.

Gentiane MG: piano

Levi Dover: double bass

Mark Nelson: drums

(*) : On February 18 at the Rare Gallery – Paris & on February 20 at the SunsideParis. 

The show case at The Rare Gallery was a partnership with Couleurs Jazz and Effendi Records, Montreal.

©Photos Gaby Sanchez pour Couleurs Jazz.


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