Ever since pianist extraordinaire Jacky Terrasson burst upon the jazz scene in 1993 by winning the Thelonious Monk Piano Competition, he has consistently recorded richly refined and remarkably free-spirited music. After delivering 10 CDs for Blue Note Records, Terrasson’s Concord Jazz debut Push is an 11-track gem of dynamic pianism that opens up a new door onto his creative technique and ingenuity.
“It’s definitely a turning point for me,” says the Berlin-born, Paris-raised, New York-based master of the keys. “I’m with a new label, so that made it important to me to do things differently. I wanted another sound, and I wanted to explore what I’ve been going through personally over the last few years. There are different grooves, beats and vibe.” And like the album title suggests, the music is driven by an inherent thrust forward. Terrasson explains, “Push means to make things happen, to push into new directions. That’s what this album is all about.” Part of this advance includes the pianist making his vocal debut on two songs. “I know I’m not a singer,” he says. “But I’ve been hearing that in my head for years, so I figured why not.” He laughs and adds, “I pushed for it.”
Push features seven new Terrasson compositions as well as a sampling of fresh spins on standards, including two Monk tunes and a Cole Porter beauty as well as a version of the timeless melody “Body and Soul” melded with “Beat It,” Michael Jackson’s Thriller hit. On board for the ride are Terrasson’s core trio mates, bassist Ben Williams and drummer Jamire Williams (no relation), plus such guests as harmonica ace Gregoire Maret, tenor saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart, guitarist Matthew Stevens and percussion Cyro Baptista, who quietly stars on three numbers.
To Terrasson, Push represents “the beginning of something new even though it’s tied to everything I’ve done before. There are a lot more of my own compositions—more than ever—and it’s like the introduction to a new stage in my musical life.”
As for the one-word title, Terrasson smiles when reminded that several of his previous recordings were also one-worders: Reach (1996), Rendezvous (with Cassandra Wilson, 1997), Alive (1998), Smile (2002) and Mirror (2007). “I like it that way,” he says. “It’s short and to the point. Push.”