Pianist Jacky Terrasson Picks the Best Week to Release His Clever New Single, "Palindrome"

Sep 13, 2019

Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?

Jacky Terrasson would surely answer that prompt with a grin. A jazz pianist who emerged in the early 1990s like a sprinter off the blocks, he has always brought a decisive dash to his music, along with a resistance to any form of stasis.

Besides which, Terrasson would probably recognize the question above as a palindrome: an arrangement of letters that reads the same backward as forward. We happen to be in the midst of Palindrome Week, a symmetrical alignment — at least for those of us who render dates in the month-day-year format — that continues through next Thursday, 9/19/19.

Which makes this a good time for Terrasson to do one of the following: Stack cats. Rise to vote, sir. Air an aria. Or release a track called “Palindrome,” which of course is what all of those other phrases are.

A burbling stream of a tune, “Palindrome” has a melodic line that can be played in either direction; “A fun personal game with notes,” is how Terrasson puts it in the digital booklet for 53, which Blue Note will release online on Sept. 27. (Another way to peg the formal mischief in the tune: Party boobytrap. But there I go again.)

As Gary Walker wrote of 53 in the WBGO Fall Preview, “Terrasson features three trios — one with bassist Géraud Portal and drummer Ali Jackson, another with bassist Sylvain Romano and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, and a third with bassist Thomas Bramerie and drummer Lukmil Pérez.” So many dynamos! (Ack, sorry.)

Terrasson has favored the format of piano-bass-drums throughout his career, going back 25 years to his self-titled Blue Note debut. In 2010, he brought what was then a new working trio to WBGO, performing an inspired session on The Checkout.

Credit Blue Note Records

But he apparently couldn’t settle on just one rhythm team this time. The trio heard on “Palindrome” includes Pérez, who hails from Cuba, and Bramerie, who’s French. Another Frenchman, engineer Philippe Gaillot, sings wordless vocals on the track, for an effect that recalls the Pat Metheny Group.

“I felt the need for this diversity of approach in order to lend substance to the different facets of my compositions,” Terrasson says of his three trios, in a press statement. “All the extraordinary musicians that I invited onto this album were chosen for their musicality and their ability to bring something special to what I do.”

He might have added: Too bad I hid a boot. (I’ll just show myself out.)

Jacky Terrasson’s 54 will be released on Sept. 27; preorder here.