Internationally renowned bassist and composer Jeff Denson continues to celebrate the release of "Between Two Worlds" — the debut recording with his new trio featuring French guitarist Romain Pilon and celebrated drummer Brian Blade — with album release concerts in Tulsa and Edmond.
They will perform an album release concert in Edmond at 7 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 9 at the University of Central Oklahoma Jazz Lab, 100 E. 5th St. Tickets are $15.
Denson had long been a fan of Blade when he got the call in 2017 to tour with Joel Harrison’s Spirit House quintet, which featured Blade on drums.
“Jeff and I could communicate like that right away, (as musicians) and as people too,” said Blade of their meeting. “The kind of relationship where you don’t have to say too much, or to explain.”
Their chemistry was so strong that Denson decided to bring Blade into another partnership he’d developed, with Paris-based guitarist Romain Pilon. “Between Two Worlds,” the result of that three-way meeting of the minds, was released Oct. 25, 2019, via Ridgeway Records.
“I first met Romain at Berklee College of Music, 20 years ago this fall, and after reconnecting a couple of times over the years, once in New York and again for a tour in California, we decided to do a project together,” Denson said. “He’s a bad dude. A virtuoso player, but very sensitive and very musical — the same exact words I would use to describe Brian. It just seemed like a perfect fit.”
“Between Two Worlds” features 10 original compositions: five each by Denson and Pilon, most of them written especially for this album. The music’s sound is consistent across the album: complex but highly expressive post-bop, guitar-trio jazz. Yet for the most part, it’s apparent at a glance which composer wrote which tune. Pilon’s titles are in French (“Sucrée,” “En Trois Temps,” “Azur,” “Génération”); “Madrid,” whose language is neither of the above, is also by Pilon. “Song of a Solitary Crow,” “Nostalgic Farewell,” “Listen Up,” “Lost and Found” and “Between Two Worlds” are Denson’s.
The album’s title has poetic dimensions.
“As musicians we float between two worlds,” writes Denson in the album’s liner notes. “One, a physical plane and the other a powerful reality that can only be found with the most open of ears, hearts and minds.”
Part of that intuitive reality is the chemistry between the three musicians, which all of them agreed was strong.
“Romain is inspiring, his playing and compositions,” Blade says. “And Jeff as well. Who they are comes through in the music, and the joy.”
“Playing music with Jeff and Brian was like discovering new paths to creativity,” Pilon said. “I felt like everything was possible. I just had to keep my ears open.”
“It’s one thing to make everything work and have everybody sound good, but there’s an unexplainable magic that can happen between players,” Denson added. “That was very clearly there for us. It was a totally magical, exciting experience to do this trio album.”