"In the past, the great jazzmen from Liège were all sax players (Bobby Jaspar, Jacques Pelzer and Steve Houben) or guitarists (René Thomas, Robert Grahame and Jacques Pirotton), rarely pianists. Over the past 20-odd years, things have changed.
Eric Legnini in the late eighties and Pascal Mohy ten years later spearheaded a new generation. Igor Gehenot, born in 1989, is taking on that role today. On stage his angelic face goes through a metamorphosis as he grimaces with beautiful suffering – there’s no doubt, he’s one of the family!
Gehenot’s first appearances were at jam sessions at the mythical JP’s club as part of the Metropolitan Quartet. His skill was already more than assured with a surprisingly anchored feeling. He was already a pianist that – through reinvented standards and his own well-balanced compositions – had the precocious art of making things gel. Listen to “Mister Moogoo” and you’ll see what I mean. It has a modern, incandescent swing; to be filed under Hancock/Legnini. The same goes for the obsessive groove of “A Long Distance Call to JC” or the power trio feel of “The Rude Awakening”.
For his first release, Gehenot chose to highlight other aspects of his young talent. A large part of the programme reveals a world that is more romantic than punchy, more impressionistic than turbulent. “Nuit d’hiver” and “Green Valley” inevitably remind one of Brad Mehldau or Jef Neve, but also pianists of the ECM school. His lyricism is deliberately airy without ever becoming vapid, providing a pleasant contrast to the snappier compositions.
To finish the project, the pianist chose two high-flying partners. Since the trio’s birth, Sam Gertsmans has been providing the rhythmic solidity and harmonic transparence of the Gehenot groove (on “Highway at 2” and “Léna”, notably). The surprise is the newcomer, Teun Verbruggen, a long-time sparring partner of Jef Neve. A highly inventive drummer, he brings a new dimension to the trio in terms of sound colours and timbre. He also brings majesty and stature to the combo’s polyrhythms.
As an example, his solo on “Mister Moogoo”. Ahmad Jamal, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau and Jason Moran fine-tuned the fine art of the trio decade after decade. Belgium’s new jazz generation is adding another stone to the construction with this record."
Text by Jean-Pol Schroeder (Maison du Jazz à Liège)
Igor Gehenot, 24, is a hyper-talented pianist that has heard and absorbed everything and cooks up a recipe on the piano with ingredients from all that he has accumulated since playing as a child.
It is often romantic, to the point of being lyrical, while also sounding unchained and free. Igor is as inspired in his improvised follies as in his often simple, effective melodies. This is also because he is accompanied by two excellent musicians.
Sam Gerstmans, on double bass,
comes from jazz rock and provides the
backbone of the trio. This is the skeleton, the lively and inventive rallying point. Teun Verbruggen, no stranger to experimentation, colours the music with the palette of a percussionist painter. He gives them space, different tonalities, weaves a sound web of mosaics, blows
up the rhythm.
On paper, Igor, Sam and Teun are not the
same style. But something happened
that created an impressive cohesion between the three. You can hear it remarkably clearly on the album “Road Story”, an eclectic album with swing, grooves, nostalgia and hard bop. Oh, and a big point in common: the emotion that the rich music, all composed by Igor, evokes in the listener.
(Belgian Jazz Meeting 2013 - JCV)