Music for Bowlers
Old School Modern Jazz. That’s the best handle I can put on Jacob Koller’s clean and quirky piano expositions, which are reminiscent of Vince Guaraldi’s work for the Peanuts Christmas Special. After a few listens, a melody resolves itself here, a theme recurs there, and after you learn to play the music yourself you can fully grasp Koller’s complex constructs. Backing up Koller’s piano is a sporadic drum by Corey Fogel and a thoughtful stand-up bass operated by Chris Finet. Like all good jazz, the issue here is not to fill the listener’s hi-fi with as much sound as possible, but to set every note and riff apart on a velvet cushion and highlight it with a halogen lamp. The production values are very high, and if there’s a musical error here I’ve yet to find it. Still I wonder about the odd background noises on cut three, “Hid Aright.” As the music bebops along, a mic seems left open and collects odd ambient sound like a stool scraping, cymbals being set up, and cables being connected. These effects add an ambiance of immediacy, but while these are easily tuned out in a club during a live show, on CD they take on a towering quality that says: “This is here for a reason. YOU must decipher it before you are allowed into the ultra hip VIP room.” I’m still considering the consequences of this possible production fluke. That’s what makes jazz so cool — even a screw-up can take on an artfulness of its own.
Jacob Koller: www.jacobkoller.com