Crayford/Street/Weiss: East West Moon (Rattle Jazz)

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Moon
Crayford/Street/Weiss: East West Moon (Rattle Jazz)

Jonathan Crayford has long been considered one of New Zealand's finest jazz pianists and his range is wide, from Latin flavours to touring with Trinity Roots, playing acid-jazz with New York's Groove Collective, jazz-rock (albeit on acoustic piano) and this album which frequently has a profoundly classical weight and gravitas in many of the pieces.

Joined by bassist Ben Street and drummer Dan Weiss in a New York studio – the same line-up as on the superb Dark Light of 2014) -- and again Crayford's melodies nod towards Bach and weightless impressionism as much as the elegance of Bill Evans.

There is beautiful stillness at the heart of much of this (the slowly emerging, 10 minute Yves Noir with the Long Hair Wig with its daring minimalist repetition towards the end). Yet by playing less classically-trained Crayford and the rhythm section say so much more, as on the melancholy romance of Kurt in Berlin which sounds like a walk through empty streets beneath watery moonlight.

Across an album of deft and cohesive understatement it is perhaps unhelpful to single out any particular piece, but the soft surface of Crayford's piano on Disturbance undercut by Weiss' more busy and unsettling drum patterns is a compelling work.

As with the previous album, these pieces have a poetry about them which is indefinable but quite real, so it is no surprise that the final, brief and spare track Light of the Earth takes its title from a poem by Peter Stevens reproduced in the booklet.

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