One Day in Winter/Carole Nelson Trio
One Day In Winter is the sort of recording that keeps one on the edge of their seat throughout. The trio brings a deep empathy with European Jazz-making on one hand; the sparseness and melodicism, while keeping the tradition of Jazz music at the fore and even making space for Irish traditional elements in the inaugural piece Beata Viscera. But this is no fusion record. The trio have a singular vision, and the many influences are naturally expressed in the whole. This is a piano trio that finds a way to swing gently but stridently through a plethora of feels. No contrivances here, this is real.
Nelson’s piano has melodicism that brings to mind players such as Keith Jarrett and Paul Bley, without mimicry or direct reference. She has managed to incorporate the approach of these elders while making the content her own. Something that gives the whole recording a sense that we are hearing her own voice, and that is pleasurable indeed.
Cormac O’Brien’s bass is wonderful here. He is the epitome of the supportive accompanist while still leaving an indelible print upon the music. The sound is genuine (and also well-recorded), a sort of woody sound that makes me think of Scott LaFaro a little on this particular album. O’Brien is the sort of bass player that every Jazz musician wants to play with; the perfect juggler of risk-taking and foundation.
Drummer Dominic Mullan is likewise found in full service of the music here. For instance, as the track Snow is Falling begins one is barely even aware of the most subtle textures he is gently adding. This builds through what is a quite profound arc during the four minute piece, and that is all being driven by how Mullan manipulates the energy. Conversely, when it is time to swing his placement can really drive the trio into that realm of “quiet fire” which is so gratifying to hear in these types of melodic piano trios.
This is a record that doesn’t shy away from its art, and yet the high level musicianship should be no barrier to the casual listener. Never does it feel anyone has anything to prove. This is simply solid and uncompromising playing from three highly enjoyable players. The compositions are always interesting, yet avoid overt complexity – no small feat indeed for Nelson as composer. This is a recording that doesn’t get predictable at any point, with each track providing a window into different, and continually surprising, aspects of the group. Highly recommended.
CAROLE NELSON TRIO RAISE THE SPIRITS AT WEXFORD ARTS CENTRE
Review by Jackie Hayden
There was a point during the Carole Nelson Trio’s stimulating concert at the Wexford Arts Centre when keyboardist Nelson introduced ‘The Sky Darkens’ from her new album One Day in Winter. The poem/tune was inspired by Leonard Cohen’s death and his love of Zen Buddhism. She’d written the lyrics while meditating on ageing and death, and her rendition of them in spoken form with the trio brought the spirit of Cohen to the venue, with Dominick Mullen’s martial drumming adding an appropriately sombre touch.
But there was a Zen feel to much of the fine music the trio offered throughout the night, with a tendency for the Carlow-based Nelson and her sidekicks (Mullen plus Cormac O’Brien on bass) to make every note and every space count to the maximum.
It was one of two spoken vocals, the other being ‘Snow Is Falling’ to which they brought a suitably wistfulness. ‘Cold Rushing River’ enabled all three to stretch out and ‘Sun Rising Over The Blackstair’ began in languid style before shifting up the gears. They’d opened proceedings with ‘Beata Viscera’, Nelson’s re-invention of a hymn from the 13th century by Pérotin, setting the scene for an evening dominated by Nelson’s fluid playing, and her tendency to ease notes effortlessly from her instrument. Much of One Day In Winter is inspired by the natural environs of her home, and it was exhilarating to hear its compositions come alive before our very ears in such an intimate setting.
Irish Times. Gig of the Week
Saturday, Jan 13
Carole Nelson Trio
Visual, Carlow, 8pm, €15/12, visualcarlow.ie
Carole Nelson has spent the best part of three decades as one half of popular jazz-pop duo Zrazy, but an invitation to perform with her own trio last year has opened a new door for the Carlow-based pianist. What began with a one-off performance has blossomed into a fine working trio featuring bassist Cormac O Brien and drummer Dominic Mullen, with whom Nelson is touring this spring to promote her debut solo album, One Day in Winter. The London-born pianist and composer may not have all the flashy chops of some of her male colleagues, but the directness and honesty of her playing – spacious, meditative and open-hearted – more than makes up for it.
One Day In Winter/Carole Nelson Trio
Carole Nelson is best known as half of the duo Zrazy, playing alto and soprano sax with vocalist Maria Walsh. Here she concentrates on piano on all the tracks except one: The Sky Darkens, where she plays a soprano sax solo. Nine of the ten tracks are her own compositions.
She is a lyrical pianist, and the music flows along at a leisurely pace, seldom getting above mid-tempo. The winter theme is illustrated by evocative titles like Low Light Through Bare Trees, Cold Rushing River and Stories By The Fire. Two tracks, Snow is Falling and The Sky Darkens, feature spoken verses above the music, recalling the 1960s fashion for jazz and poetry. O’Brien and Mullen provide subtle and sensitive backing, and there is a strong rapport between the three musicians.
The album will be launched in Arthur’s Bar on Thursday 16 November, when the Carole Nelson Trio will play as part of a double bill with the David Berkman Trio.
One Day In Winter / Carole Nelson Trio Blackstairs Records
Sean Brophy: Dublin 104, Jazz Mine
Carole Nelson has been part of Zrazy for many years but, in her first disc as leader, demonstrates another side of her musical abilities as all the tracks, bar one, are originals & her pianistic skills shine through on an atmospheric outing which showcases a winter day in the Carlow neighbourhood where she now lives.
Carole has a beautiful emotional feel for both of her instruments on this project ( piano / soprano sax ) where her fellow musicians Cormac O'Brien ( bass ) & Dominic Mullen ( drums ) demonstrate their respective playing powers which blend most interestingly into this musical delight.
The Barrow is the second longest river in Ireland & takes centre stage on my favourite track on the CD which is titled Cold Rushing River.
Winter is a time for reflection so One Day In Winter as company will, in my opinion, enhance that experience through repeated listens.