CD Reviews

Sophie Agnel, John Edwards, Steve Noble – Meteo

August 10, 2013

Clean Feed

Some days all I have the mental energy for is good, traditional old improvised music. This isn’t to say that there is anything lacking in any way about this music compared to any other- far, far from it, but on days like today I feel the need to step into my comfort zone, stop straining for understanding and just let the joy of well-played improvisation cheer me up. Meteo is a recording of this resoundingly fine piano/bass/drums trio captured live in France a year ago. Stylistically, its maybe as close as you may ever find to a perfectly middle-ground acoustic improv record. It isn’t quiet, but there is plenty of attention to texture and timbre over muscle and momentum. It isn’t loud, but there is not much room for silence. It hints at jazz in places but on the whole sounds nothing like it. It is in essence quintessential non-idiomatic improvisation, but its a real joy to sit and listen to on a summer’s evening simple because the playing is so good.

I’ve long enjoyed Steve Noble’s playing. While his output on CD may not have crossed my path all that often I’ve enjoyed hearing him live quite a few times since he first blew me away in a duo with Otomo Yoshihide at the ICA way back in 1996. While very physical, visceral perhaps, his playing has always had a feeling of real sensitivity to me. John Edwards seems to be able to thread his bass through just about whoever he plays alongside, and Agnel here fits perfectly with the others, spraying light flurries in one direction, heavy crashes in another. The resulting music is extremely fluid and natural sounding. I’m not sure how often the trio had played together around the time of this recording but I would guess it may have been quite a bit as the way the music rises, falls, tumbles around from one section to the next sounds completely organic. There is one piece here, one continual set recorded very nicely, and following it through, from its fastest flurries of energy to the last five or six minutes as the music subsides through contemplative passages to a slow halt is a wonderful, almost physical pleasure. The way the musicians work together, the way the sounds just flow exactly how they feel like they should makes this an easy listen, but a very enjoyable listen as well, and that’s just what I needed today.