The Palm Tree Line
2023 / Jazzsick Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
The Palm Tree Line is the debut release from a new Italian jazz trio headed up by award-winning German pianist/composer Christian Pabst. An expression of Pabst's love for the music of the "south" as well as for his adopted home in Italy, The Palm Tree Line is the first recording where Pabst explores the music of other composers rather than his own original compositions. Quoting Pabst: "The album features music from the 'south': film music from Italy, classical music from Cuba, folk music from Mexico etc. all songs that could have only been written between the 44th grade south and the 44th grade north, the only zone in the world where palm trees grow!" Warm and sunny, that part of the world is full of life, music and mystery, and all of that is reflected in the eight vibrant tracks on the album. In addition to Christian Pabst on piano and keyboards, the trio includes Francesco Pierotti on double bass and Lorenzo Brilli on drums and percussion. Two guest artists add their magic touches to some of the tracks - singer Ilaria Forciniti and accordionist Frederico Gili. Also a celebrated film composer, Pabst says, "I want to create music that speaks to the heart and the mind alike," and I think he succeeds very well. Last year, I reviewed Pabst's collaborative album with Czech saxophonist Lubos Soukup, Levitas, which I also really enjoyed!
The Palm Tree Line begins with Leonard Bernstein's "Mambo" from West Side Story, a dark, high-energy piece with a compelling piano lead enhanced with equally propulsive drums and bass plus some impressive keyboard work (also Pabst). This one immediately grabs your attention and never lets go for a more-than-impressive start to the album! "Amarcord" is somewhat more relaxed, although it has its intense moments, too, and features a jazz trio in perfect synch. I love "Amara Terra Mia," sung with deep emotion by Ilaria Forciniti. Originally a work song sung by people harvesting olives in the fields, the lyrics are about leaving your native country because there is nothing left to live for there. The lyrics are Italian, but the emotional depth of Ilaria's voice defies any language barriers. "Un'Ora Sola Ti Vorrei" comes from both an Italian musical comedy and a B-movie, and became popular in Italy. All three members of the trio have a chance to really shine in this one! "Déjame Llorar" tells an ironic Mexican love story with a gentle swing rhythm and an abundance of soul. Most of the six-minute piece is a wonderful instrumental, with the last verse sung by the band and Ilaria Forciniti - a great way to finish the song! "Tramonto" brings this excellent album to a close with a shimmering piano solo that suggests (to me, anyway) brilliant beams of sunlight dancing on a calm ocean surface as the sun slowly sets. Nice!
The Palm Tree Line is available from Amazon and Apple Music/iTunes as well as many streaming sites including Spotify. Several singles from the album are also available. Very highly recommended!
September 2, 2023