Rufus Records RF110
Reviewed by Gavin Franklin, April 1st, 2014
When this CD was released in 2010, the Nat Bartsch Trio (NBT) consisted of the pianist (Bartsch), Josh Holt was the bassist and Leigh Fisher played drums. The music was very tastefully improvised. Taste and subtlety are paramount throughout, however at no stage does the music descend into ‘noodling’. There is an ever-present sense that every gesture is purposeful.
Bartsch uses a light touch on the piano, a technique that suits her chosen material, most of which consists of her own compositions. Throughout this set, with the exception of the riff piece entitled My Very Own Elephant Song, she displays restraint in her attack, yet preserves great clarity of intention. All of her ideas are realised with a crystal clarity that I found attractive and satisfying.
I Have . . . This first track grabbed my attention immediately. There is a delicate quality about its execution and the sureness of the performers’ assertion sets the tone for the entire CD. Holt’s bass solo is a highlight here.
Revelry by Kings of Leon and The Sire of Sorrow by Joni Mitchell are the two ‘covers’ in the set. Both are presented with respect for the original versions at the same time as reshaping some of their elements in adapting them for improvisation. I enjoyed the Bartsch Trio adaptations even more than the original popular songs.
Song for Mum is a composition with Latin rhythm. It contains a very good drum solo that showcases Leigh Fisher’s fine musicianship.
You Put the Spring in Spring is a piece in which triple metre is beautifully blurred by syncopated melody.
Whilst continuing the overall gentle vibe, Warm, Slowly has a slow rock feel. The drummer plays with commendable restraint yet manages to convey strong rhythmic drive. His solo makes clever use of parade ground snare drum work and cymbal interplay.
My Very Own Elephant Song employs a riff in slow triple metre that provides a contrasting mood to some of the other pieces. In this way it contributes to the balance of the album.
As I write this review, the current version of NBT has just released another album entitled To Sail, To Sing and has toured Japan with it. If the new lineup is as good as the first, I look forward to hearing it. Springs, for all the Winters is a wonderful contribution to Australia’s contemporary music. Hear Nat Bartsch whenever you can.