…Gradually opens up into a beautifully lucid melody.

Ubuntu Music UBU0133

Eddie Gripper (piano); Ursula Harrison (bass); Isaac Zuckerman (drums)

Recorded 13th & 20th June 2022

It does not take long when listening to this remarkable debut album from pianist Eddie Gripper that you realise here is something quite special. A set of all original compositions that do not all swing in the conventional sense but have their own internal rhythmic logic and flow that is most compelling.

Gripper’s melodic compositions have an easy charm about them that demand repeated listening. Sometimes to confirm that yes, you have just heard that correctly and just where did that phrase come from?; or simply because the music is that good.

A fine example of this is ‘A Song Unsprung’ that has a deceptively catchy and memorable melody and some fantastic interplay between the trio. Bassist Ursula Harrison also gets in a tremendous solo on this composition, and at times sound as if is leading the trio through the song to its logical conclusion.

This is a trait that is constant throughout, and a trio sound that is well played in. Everyone knows their role within the music and just where the boundaries can be crossed. ‘Lament’ is a beguiling piece that begins with Gripper strumming the piano’s strings, and again Harrison’s wonderful tone on the bass is at the forefront of the composition, giving way to the pianist to gently unravel the central melody and subsequent development.

Moments like this are in abundance with the opening ‘Before The Storm’ immediately grabbing the attention with an intricate opening statement that gradually opens up into a beautifully lucid melody.

Gripper’s voicings are a joy and used to build and release tension in a most agreeable manner, and it is apparent that he has paid close attention to Keith Jarrett and in particular Jarrett’s Belonging quartet. Not that he is enthralled by his influences to lose his own sense of identity, and it will be interesting to hear how he processes his influences going forward.

Each of the seven pieces on the album are all carefully structured to hold their own as stand alone compositions, but also sit together well as evoking the feeling of home and the comfort that it brings. The album’s finale, ‘To The Moon’ echoes that sentiment, and in a perfect moment of reflection in this delightful piece for solo piano Eddie Gripper leaves us hanging on every note.

As the era of overlong albums seems to be falling away in favour of shorter, more compact musical statements, Eddie Gripper leaves us wanting more… and soon.

Reviewed by Nick Lea</strong