Settle back in a comfortable chair, turn the lights down low and chill with a good drink and some cool jazz. Canadian pianist/composer Steve Amirault's Breath sets the mood perfectly for those who like their jazz playful, but passionate, sophisticated, but not showy and strolling instead of pummeling.
Amirault doesn't feel any need to show off by showing how fast he can play or how many notes he can pump out. Along with bassist Jim Vivian and drummer Greg Ritchie, the trio demonstrates that restraint can be far more impressive than "hey-look-at-me" soloing and piling riffs upon riffs just because you can.
This is contemporary acoustic jazz that you can still find in clubs and lounges across America on a Friday night, if you're lucky enough to have venues that appreciate and support live music by hard working artists. "Breath" is a 1:30 introduction of piano-bass-percussion interplay that is demonstrative of Amirault's ear for lyrical melody. The remaining eight tracks demonstrate both a mastery of innovative rhythmic conceptualizing and bold adventures into improvisation.
Vivian's bass on "Acceptance," along with the precise drumming of Richie, never threaten to overshadow Amirault's piano, but instead establish a rock-solid groove that only comes from musicians confident in their own abilities and comfortable with each other. Amirault's playing on "Between Dreams" reminds me of Brad Mehldau in its quiet introspection, but Amirault has his own original voice. It is expressed in fine style on the driving "Society Intrigue," my personal favorite on Breath.
Both poignant and inspired, Steve Amirault is an exciting talent worthy and deserving of attention and acclaim from critics and fans wondering when the Next Big Thing is coming from. I'd recommend looking to the North for more from this thoughtful and dynamic musician.