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(45:38, MALS Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Mania 5:28 2. Waltz'n'Blues 7:09 3. A Very Tough Day 5:19 4. Morning Rain 6:05 5. Japanese Girl 4:07 6. 9 & 11 & 7 6:54 7. I Say Yes 5:12 8. The Brilliant Way 5:24 LINEUP: Kirill Sokirko – piano Dmitry Malygin – bass Roman Smirnov – drums
Prolusion. The Russian trio FUSION POINT is the creative vehicle of pianist Kirill Sokirko, and was formed in 2009. "Morning Rain" is their debut album, and was released by their native label MALS Records at the start of 2012.
Analysis. Fusion Point describes their music as a blend of "jazz-rock, smooth-jazz, funk, and trip hop, along with nu-jazz, lounge, cool, be-bop, and mainstream swing, where the improvisation so characteristic of jazz takes secondary importance". A more detailed description can be found on their website. The band also mentions that many critics most likely will end up describing their music as modern jazz. And personally I concur with that, although from my limited knowledge about jazz I do find it hard to track down the elements in their compositions that correspond to the modern description. The eight pieces explored are all of a similar construction, nature and approach, at least to my ears. The piano is the dominating instrument/key provider of lead motifs, and the vital instrument in establishing mood and intensity throughout. The bass guitar has a partially subservient role to the piano, supporting the lead motif with a simpler, contrasting underlying base motif. On some of the pieces these roles are turned around too, an effective maneuver to cater for variation as well as revitalization of the composition in question. And the drums cater for pace and momentum, in combination with bass and piano both. All three instruments are tightly interwoven, perhaps more so than what is common in jazz. The drums also cater for most of the distinct jazz sound on this production, the gentle, refined and frequently elaborate percussion backdrop of a kind and nature that will be instantly recognizable as residing within the jazz universe. A striking feature for all the songs is that the amount of improvisation is limited. As far as jazz music goes, this album is amongst the most structured ones I have come across so far. At the same time all pieces are smooth and free flowing in nature, even when entering the occasional complex territories. Sokirko's abilities as a performer and composer both appear to be of the highest standard though. Despite the relatively limited range of the music explored this is a CD that never feels overly explored, the light tonal range employed and the generally vibrant, positive and uplifting nature of the moods explored obviously an asset within such a context.
Conclusion. Uplifting, positive and joyful music is what Fusion Point provides with their debut album "Morning Rain", a classic jazz trio with bass and drums supporting a lead piano, featuring structured compositions leaving little room for improvisations. The end result is a highly melodic and accessible variety of jazz, of a kind and nature that, I suspect, will be of interest to many also well outside of the jazz universe, piano enthusiasts in particular.
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