Marko Churnchetz (p), Harish Raghavan (b), Justin Brown (d), Jonathan Hoard (vcl)
Bar code: 8427328435703
“Marko is a new bright light in jazz music. This album is a magnificent articulation of contemporary composition and improvisation. Excellent performance by everyone involved.”
"This is Churnchetz’s follow-up to the excellent Ruthenia from 2017, which I reviewed in JJ. The Ruthenia album was a retrospective of Russian composers of the 20th century, played by his then rhythm section plus an 11-piece orchestra. It was recorded in his native Slovenia and also in NYC, whereas Place To Live is very much a Brooklyn, NYC styled affair in terms of material, playing and sound, the leader sometimes venturing onto the electro-mechanical Fender Rhodes piano as well as the acoustic variety.
In this new context, Churnchetz sounds quite like Mehldau, Yahel and a number of other contemporary US jazz pianists, which is no bad thing, but there again his sound here is perhaps less personally distinctive than on his previous release.
Listening to the first three tracks (the self-penned opener, Churnchetz’s arrangement of Coltrane’s Countdown,and Metheny’s Bright Size Life) I had the feeling that I was in for a heavyweight contemporary piano trio experience, and much of the album is indeed that. However, what changed the album for me was the introduction of vocals on the title track (vocalist Hoard co-composed this with the leader) and Monk’s Ask Me Now.
Whilst the vocals are in keeping with the style of the music, they’re very much a guest appearance on a couple of tracks, and they somehow had the effect of diluting the piano trio experience in the middle of the album, just as they were gaining momentum. That said, it’s worth noting that the vocal overdubs were recorded on a separate day, over a month after the trio’s efforts, so it’s a fine performance by both vocalist and trio to make that work on a jazz recording.
The high-tempo version of Shorter’s Pinocchio restores the momentum, complete with a drum work out for Justin Brown, followed by a great version of Kenny Wheeler’s Nicolette. The trio’s efforts were recorded in just one day, which for a full album is pretty quick work, and overall it’s another fine album by Churnchetz – but I’d rather hear more of the trio on their own."
Dave Jones (July 9, 2019)
"Huitième album en tant que leader ou co-leader du jeune pianiste Slovène installé à New York, qui en compte une vingtaine comme sideman, ce deuxième sur Fresh Sound New Talent fait la part belle à quelques sommets du jazz moderne moins souvent gravis que d’autres (Ask Me Now, Countdown, Bright Size Life, Pinocchio). À l’image de la composition originale éponyme, les arrangements sont soignés, appuyés sur des rythmiques denses et parfois étourdissantes portées avec brio par la paire Raghavan-Brown (entendue avec Ambrose Akinmusire). Le batteur excelle dans l’expression d’une pluralité rythmique jamais envahissante et servie par une clarté de frappe impeccable.
On découvre avec plaisir le vocaliste Jonathan Hoard, aussi juste et précis dans ses placements qu’étonnamment souple et expressif jusque dans le registre aigu (Place to Live, Ask Me Now). On aime enfin le jeu très engagé du leader, la grande mobilité dont il use aux deux mains et qu’il met en valeur dans les arrangements (Countdown), et le tranchant de son articulation cristalline jusque sur les tempos moins enlevés (Bellavista). Des qualités auxquelles il faut ajouter l’écoute et le soutien attentifs qu’il offre à la contrebasse dans la jolie ballade conclusive (His Cottage In The Countrÿ)."
Vincent Cotro (Mai, 2019)