Martin Salemi’s “About Time”

Salemi cover

SALEMI: Remembered. Doubt. One Fine Day. Lamento. Late April. Still Water. Most of the Time / Martin Salemi, pno; Boris Schmidt, bs; Daniel Jonkers, dm / Igloo Records IGL 331

Belgian jazz pianist Martin Salemi sent me audio links to this, his new album for review because I had some very nice things to say about his previous release (Short Stories, reviewed November 2017). Like its predecessor, it is essentially low-key jazz; this is not the kind of music I generally like, but Salemi has a certain way with the music that makes you listen.

It’s a very European concept of jazz, by which I mean that it owes a lot more to subtle classical music like Satie and Debussy than to Bill Evans. There’s always something interesting going on with the harmony, which I feel is the “heart” of Salemi’s musical ideas. In the opener, Remembered, for instance, things move along quite placidly until the 2:05 mark, which is when his improvisation kicks in. Nothing flashy, but everything well thought out and it makes musical sense. His rhythm section acts as a sort of “heartbeat” to his playing, and in fact when Schmidt begins his bass solo it almost sounds at first as if it were Salemi playing the hammers inside the piano, the sound is so gentle and subtle. Yet his solo is highly rhythmic in its own way, including a passage where he suddenly shifts from 4/4 to a rapid 6/8 for a couple of bars, with drummer Jonkers following him.

And thus does the album proceed from track to track. Doubt has a hint of a rock beat, but thankfully only that. The tempo becomes even faster on One Fine Day, but the general vibe remains soft and subtle. One thing I noticed, and I don’t know if this was accidental or done on purpose, but most of these tracks seem to be in similar keys, and this does not provide sufficient contrast in the programming. With Lamento, however, both the key and the mood change to a sort of soft Latin beat.

By and large, this is what I’d characterize as a late-night quiet jazz album, wonderful to listen to when you want to wind down and calm out your mind before going to bed but not something so dull that it bores you before you can relax. Very nice music for that sort of thing.

—© 2021 Lynn René Bayley

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Read my book, From Baroque to Bop and Beyond: An extended and detailed guide to the intersection of classical music and jazz


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