In rotation: Fabian Almazan Trio’s ‘Personalities’


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Opening with Shostakovich’s ‘String Quartet No. 10, Op. 118,’ 27-year-old pianist Fabian Almazan dispels any idea that he’s pursuing a conventional path with his debut album pretty quickly. Though taking a run at classical music isn’t too surprising in jazz’s musically omnivorous universe, Almazan’s approach is as his piano gives way to delicate strings, which are slowly squelched and melted down into a wash of effects and percussion until the song resembles something from Radiohead’s wheelhouse before the melody returns with an unruffled grace.


Such are the unexpected twists in ‘Personalities,’ a fittingly titled record showcasing the many gears at work inside of Almazan’s imagination, which has been heard as part of Terence Blanchard’s nimble quintet as well as Chris Dingman’s recent album “Waking Dreams.” Though the first song’s lush deconstructions are a head-turner, it’s a bit of a red herring as Almazan’s trio stays mostly acoustic apart from his sparkling turn on Fender Rhodes for “H.U.Gs (Historically Underrepresented Groups),” which features a punchy drive from bassist Linda Oh and drummer Henry Cole.

The slow-burning title track’s shivering strings again nod toward classical music, and dips into Almazan’s Cuban heritage with contemplative takes on ‘Bola de Nieve’ and a dustily atmospheric “Tres Lindas Cubanas” complete a portrait of the diverse sounds that brought Almazan to this point. Where he goes next should be just as exciting. ALSO:

In Rotation: Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra, ‘MTO Plays Sly’

Culture Watch: The Claudia Quintet +1, ‘What Is the Beautiful?’

CD review: Chris Dingman’s ‘Waking Dreams’

Fabian Almazan Trio
(Biophilia Records)

-- Chris Barton