Like the way a painter uses color to express the vision in his/her head and a lyricist uses words to express his/her thoughts, Takeshi Asai’s instrument of choice is the piano. From the notations he composes on the keys emerges the vision in his head made tangible through aural forms. His latest recording French Trio, Vol. 1 showcases Pascal Combeau on bass and Maxime Legrand on drums. With all compositions written by Asai, the trio come together to create picturesque landscapes through glittering musical forms.
The album is a culmination of classical and contemporary influences showing the fluid serenity of La Belle Époque-inspired orchestrations meshed with the freestyle rivulets of modern chamber music. Managing a descriptive and narrative voice, Asai’s keys express visuals through chord sequences that make bucolic images corporeal in “A Beginning” and lead the bass and drums into a ballroom-style waltz along “A Midspring Night’s Dream” with the prancing gait of the keys taking center-stage. Combeau’s bass engages in an impromptu solo which withdraws into a tender sonorous as the twirling motifs of the keys display a carousal ride rotation.
Asai articulates a pensive and sorrowful mood through “Intro” as his keys sway aimlessly like weeping figures. Equilibrium is regained in “I Remember the Castle” as Asai’s keys bolt to an upright position lifting the stature of the piece through a series of energetic ripples, which cruise into the cheerful ambience of “12” scaffold in pulsating keys that begin gentle then rise to vigorous flusters before wilting into a soft glow in the closing bars. The marching cadence of the drums in the undertow of “Le Crépuscle” contour the glistening notes of the keys and drive a soft rustling rhythm along “Snow Dance” as the keys wheedle shapely lulls. “Fleurette” is an expressive piece sculpted by the keys and moves into eclectic formations that enter into avant-garde terrain.
A composer and live performer, Takeshi Asai shows that he not only understands the language used to make chamber music-based creations but he has the ability to compose original works implementing the chamber music language. Tailoring melodic forms that communicate picturesque landscapes to the listener, he brings to the language a freedom of narration that is inspirational and stirs new voices to emerge. French Trio, Vol. 1 is Asai’s third recording but his first offering with bassist Pascal Combeau and drummer Maxime Legrand.
Takeshi Asai – piano, Pascal Combeau – bass, and Maxime Legrand – drums
A Beginning, A Midspring Night’s Dream, Intro, I Remember the Castle, 12, Le Crépuscle, Snow Dance, Fleurette