Like the exposition of a futuristic sci-fi flick, Romain Collin‘s Press Enter remains grounded in the familiar acoustic piano trio but gives glimpses into a world that’s been fundamentally changed. The establishing shot of the film is the short lead-in track “99” followed by the second track, “Clockwork”, which drops you fully into the world being created, and throughout, the uniformity of production really does give the feeling of a world being created.
Production isn’t often discussed in a jazz review, but this recording insists upon it. Walking down the street with headphones in, I had to look around and make sure there wasn’t some creep whistling the same melody perfectly in sync with “The Kids”; instead, it was a beautifully produced sample of jazz pianist Jean-Michel Pilc whistling the melody. The little bits of electronic programming on this album reveal technologies contributing to the next stage of evolution without losing the essence of the piano trio–and without making it sound like a dubstep album. (Not that I don’t often enjoy a dubstep album.)
Of course, great production is nothing without great musical substance, and Press Enter has much to spare. I’ve always thought of Kendrick Scott not as a drummer but as a home run hitter; he sees his opportunity coming at him from a ways away and then makes game-changing contact with perfect timing. Bassist Luques Curtis continues on the great tradition of bassists in piano trios by playing referee for the other two.
And let’s not diminish Collin’s considerable contributions, both as composer and pianist. I often found myself whistling right along to the memorable melodies of “San Luis Obispo”, and feeling inspired to change the world as vocal samples of former prisoners freed by The Innocence Project filled my ears on “Event Horizon”, a song appropriately named to imply that these folks managed to escape a black hole that few do. There are also the epic, almost Muse-like moments carefully spread throughout the album on “Raw, Scorched, and Untethered” or “The Line (Dividing Good and Evil Cuts Through the Heart of Every Human Being)”. His improvisations are just as exciting as his compositions, sometimes taking only a few moments to lift off and other times developing over the course of an entire track. Most importantly, the pacing of Collin’s creativite input, whether song or solo, is always exactly as fast or slow as it should be.