Tania Gill: Bolger Station (2011)
a recording that sounds uncomplicated and effortless might actually be a more difficult task than presenting an impenetrable maze of writing and arrangements. Pianist/composer Tania Gill does just that with Bolger Station, an unadorned minor classic that gets stuck in the heart, while tugging at the soul.
Gill's music has an uncluttered yet sometimes quirky style, one that can echo Thelonious Monk, as heard on "Magpie," a fitful angular romp that she shares with the expressive trumpeter Lina Allemano, drummer Jean Martin, and bassist Clinton Ryder. The quartet can be mistaken for Dave Douglas' sound on "Ah Ti Tah," where Allemano's evocative slurs and growls counter the pace and pulse of Gill's writing.
This recording shares the informality of a Nina Rota soundtrack with smart melodies and sincere instrumentation, like the theatre organ heard on "Paso." Gill shares a love of folksy soundtrack sounds that draw from the circus and vaudeville. She also like to toss a few curve balls, with her waltzes sometimes buried beneath shredded scores. The "Maple Leaf Waltz" begins piecemeal, with the players pulling on their pants, spilling notes of a hoax that only comes together when Gill sings a brief lyric. Likewise, "Bicycle" disguises another waltz with darkness as the trumpet act as the singing voice.
Gill's approach at the piano touches both on jazz and chamber/folk. She can handle a ballad, like "Lakeshore," or a post-bop romp, like "Up Down," playing with a warm dexterity. Her lack of clutter is both refreshing and a bit spiritual. The disc is probably best summed up by its cover of Rodgers and Hart's "It Never Entered My Mind." Gill strips the song down to the bare melody, with the vocals giving way to both piano and the wash of a pipe organ. The simplicity of the delivery making the standard into something completely new.
Track Listing: Bolger Station; Magpie; By Ear; Paso; On My Sleeve; Maple Leaf Waltz; Bicycle; Prelude to Ah Ti Tah; Ah Ti Tah; Gaggle; Up Down; Lakeshore; It Never Entered My Mind.
Personnel: Tania Gill: piano, organ, voice; Lina Allemano: trumpet; Jean Martin: drums; Clinton Ryder: bass.
Record Label: Barnyard Records