CD Review: Jim Blomfield Trio – Wave Forms and Sea Changes

Jim Blomfield Trio – Wave Forms and Sea Changes
( PIG -PIG005. CD Review by Peter Vacher

I’ve appreciated pianist Jim Blomfield’s very special talent for some time through his membership of saxophonist’s Kevin Figes’s lively, Bristol-based quartet, having been fortunate to hear the band live quite often. His devil-may-care keyboard creativity with Figes has at times reminded me of the piano titan Earl Hines, in the way he immerses himself in an extemporization that seems beyond any possibility of returning to its starting point, only for a miraculous resolution to emerge.

Much of that spirit of adventure is present in this sparkling trio recording (released on Figes’s PIG label), the pianist supported by virtuoso bassist Roshan ‘Tosh’ Wijetunge and drummer Mark Whitlam (another holdover from the Figes quartet) over ten of Blomfield’s own pieces.

Blomfield’s playing mode is best described as tempestuous at first, fast-fingered and crisp as typified by something like ‘Now and Zen’ or ‘Pier Pressure’ before he changes the narrative with a series of fragmentary runs and jerky moves. With apparently boundless technique, the classically-trained Blomfield’s ability to confound expectations is almost the most impressive facet of his work here. I’m sure he’s listened to every contemporary keyboard giant going, straight-ahead or avant-garde, and somehow fused their varied insights and playing stances into something very special of his own; each piece like a musical version of Kim’s game, as one tries to recall and identify its component parts.

It’s clear that there’s a train of thought here that is prompted by some of the challenges inherent in his own personal story, including those presented by the autism of his two sons. His music is clever, dynamic, surprising, and quite dazzling.

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