Solid trio, liquid jazz – review of Andy Emler Trio

23. April 2013

When the French jazz legend, Andy Emler, is on stage, we don’t know where the piano strings start and its keys end. Now, imagine this multiplied by three. Yesterday, Andy Emler Trio took the audience to another dimension – the one of metamorphosis.

By Rute Barbedo


This French trio does not lose time with warm-ups. At 10 pm, the basement of the Theatre NO99 is loaded and cosy enough. There is no empty stair case or corner. The space is filled with anxious oxygen and high expectations. Andy Emler Trio strikes up with “Quelque chose à dire” (“Something to say”), but calling “quelque chose” to a vivid and powerful start sounds immediately too modest. 


This is Andy Emler’s fourth time in Tallinn, according to his memory, and his 55 years do not stop him to offer a sweating jazz to the audience. The trio appears as jazzist explorers with a classical taste, tuning their performance in a perfect choreography. Going together to the lowest notes and using the instruments as whole bodies – Emler improvising with the piano strings, Tchamitchian swinging from pizzicato to the bowed melancholic bass and Echampard making the cymbals scream –, they lead each other on a fluid dance, even when their eyes are closed.


The music of Andy Emler can have many faces but when accompanied with Eric Echampard and Claude Tchamitchian, jazz comes on its pure form: liquid. At the same time, being one of the most influential pianists and composers of the present French jazz scene gives Emler the confidence to make the audience feel the concert is happening in his living room. 


During the third song, “Inquiétude”, the audience forgets their beers and the walls of NO99. “This is a composition around four notes”, highlights Andy Emler, and as the musicians cannot escape from them, so can’t the audience. All we can hear is a permanent fusion and, many times, the piano takes the role of the drums to open a later window to the vibrant bass. There is no main actor, only music. 


In the last half of the concert (with no one noticing the time passing by) the trio strikes with “Voyage en Comptine”, the second Tchamitchian’s composition of the evening, after the joyful and competitive “Tea Time”. Andy Emler is not young anymore. Beyond his well-known and remarkable humour, there is a black shirt sweating and a mouth which glides between wheezes and sighs. That’s when, unexpectedly, he surprises the audience with a long solo, while the others admire the mastery of his thick fingers on the piano. The “voyage” intensifies in the curves of the bass, bringing suspense to the intrigue. And the disclosure is unanimous: the public joins the performance with a long applause.


But there is still time for the credits. The trio comes back with an experiment: playing “Elegance” for the first time with no music sheets. “Let’s try it”, shrugs Emler. They tried, they succeed, and they jazzed like champagne in that room.


Andy Emler Trio performed at the Theatre NO99 on April 22nd 2013.


Andy Emler Trio:
Andy Emler – piano
Claude Tchamitchian – double bass
Eric Echampard – drums