John, you played a concert in Charleville-Mézières on May 17th, with Asaf Sirkis and Yuri Goloubev. It was a great discovery for the audience. Can you present this trio and the different bass-players you play with?
Firstly, to explain the issue of bass players, I occasionally use, in the Art of Sound, the wonderful, young British bass player (known for his work with the band Empirical) Tom Farmer. But the news is that the line-up of myself, Yuri Goloubev and Asaf Sirkis will very soon be fixed as my working trio and will, from the Autumn, be called instead Congregation. I'm very happy indeed with this line-up. I think it's really special. I might have originally, when I first wanted to form a piano trio in 2005, started out looking for a drummer and a bass player but I've ended up with two absolutely unique and (each in their own way) complete Musicians. And the way they play together, so melodically, and rhythmically so together, so tight and yet so free of the pulse. I think all of us together, when we play really well, are more than what we are individually, because together it produces something else, something totally different..
Can you present the Art of Sound series ?
It started with the drummer Asaf recommending to me the studio in Italy Artesuono, run by the amazing engineer, who works for Manfred Eicher and ECM sometimes, Stefano Amerio. When we recorded the first album I realised, even before we had the title of the CD, that there was more music to be made by me at that studio. So when I thought of calling the recording by the English translation of Artesuono: The Art of Sound, I immediately decided to call it also Volume 1.
A year later and I wanted to do some solo piano recording there and came up with many hours of music. So I chose to release two volumes of solo piano and bring them, as they were both done also at the same studio as Volume 1, into the Art of Sound series and call them Volumes 2 and 3. After that it was just a case of finishing off the four CD set, completing the circle as it were, with another trio recording. That was Congregation, The Art of Sound Volume 4.
The new trio is a continuation of the old trio (which had the fantastic Sam Burgess on bass) but also slightly different. So I wanted a new title, not the Art of Sound anymore. But to keep a link with the old trio (and to make a reference to one of my compositions for the old trio which was extremely popular) I chose the name Congregation. Congregation also has a religious meaning and I quite like that: the idea of people all congregating to celebrate something common to everyone.
We’ve been presenting your trio as a kind of « power trio », in the the way of EST or the Bad Plus, with great classical music roots. Do you agree with this introduction?
Absolutely! But definitely not just power. I also hope there are other influences there: Tord Gustavsen maybe? I'm listening to and adding influences the whole time. I'm currently listening a lot to a simply wonderful British/Danish trio called Phronesis.