It’s one of the strongest trio albums I’ve heard this year.

JDM-2023-01

Jesse Dietschi (Bass), Ewan Farncombe (Piano), Ethan Ardelli (Drums)

Gradient is Dietschi’s debut recording, and it is impressive. Dietschi is different from your ordinary jazz bassist. He is equally fluent in jazz and classical idioms as a bassist, composer, and bandleader. He is a propulsive bassist driving an excellent trio in an exciting direction.

Leader, bassist, and composer Jesse Dietschi is an international touring and recording jazz artist who serves as a top-call extra musician with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Canadian Opera Company.

On Dietschi’s website, he lists four of his “groups”: Sinfonia Toronto, Tunnel Six, Jesse Dietschi Trio, and orchestral bassist. Tunnel Six and the Trio perform in the jazz field.

Joined by pianist Ewen Farncombe and drummer Ethan Ardelli, the compositions featured in Gradient draw from Dietschi’s extensive training in jazz and orchestral fields. There is nothing stuffy here, just swinging music.

The trio plays intimately with each other throughout the CD. Their playing is spontaneous, erupting into elegant solos as the band plays on. This CD is joyous music happily rolling along as the members prod, pull, and push each other.

In the first cut, “It’s What It’s,” the music is soft-spoken but never dull. Dietsch is a propulsive force pointing in the direction and guiding his music mates through the song’s changes. Very entertaining to listen to.

“Lake Effect” is a calming, soothing song that conjures up sitting by the water and letting its calmness relax your mood. Dietschi plays a bit of arco bass, underscoring the peacefulness of the music. The mood changes after midway — perhaps a brief storm on the lake that disappears as the song quiets down.

“Canmore” continues the quiet mood with this reflective piece, highlighting Dietschi’s formidable arco bass playing. “Waxing Nostalgic” is a calming piece that conjures up a misty view of the past, most notably due to the drums and cymbal washes.

“Process of Perspective” is about how a perspective develops, and the various angles, views, and sequences refract and enhance the “thing” we’re trying to understand. This band is a joy on this tune.

Although you could put this on at dinner or a small party in the background, I found it more amenable to a careful listen. The band is very tight and responsive to each other’s whims. Each instrumentalist takes a part of the tune and adds nuances that create unique pieces. It’s one of the strongest trio albums I’ve heard this year.