The only ''unlocking mechanism'' anyone is thinking about at the moment as events overtake just about everything is a Coronavirus vaccine, not the so-named first track of Ascent.
The album once again finds the famed German pianist with bassist Robert Landfermann and drummer Jonas Burgwinkel plus Brazilian guitarist Nelson Veras. Vocalist Veronika Morscher is a guest on two tracks while clarinettist Jeremy Viner also figures however fleetingly as an attractively decorative presence. He pops up hyperactively and most tellingly on bebop warhorse '52nd Street Theme'.
A cutting edge sound spanning Held, Monk, Mompou and Rachmaninoff compositions that explores the latest ideas in terms of small group piano-led jazz Held produced the album himself. But perhaps he needed to step back from his close-up relationship to the music and hand the reins to someone else given that it does not quite reach the places I thought that it easily would on hearing a lead-off track a few months ago.
A pastoral Metheny-esque super refined blend as it all turns out recorded in a Cologne studio back in late-June of course the musicianship dazzles anyone who hears this will surely agree however this turns out to be a difficult album to love because the tunes seem to lack a directness and the whole thing is a little too disengaging. It becomes more an album to study (as a chore rather than object of fascination) because there is a lot here to do just that than to definitively take your breath away. SG
Out on Edition. Pablo Held photo top: Bandcamp.