1. Prologue: Old Portraits
7. Street Life No. 1
8. The Room
9. The Family
10. Morning in the City
11. Tough Tale
12. Street Life No. 2
13. Horror Story
14. New Friends
15. The Morning After
16. Get a Job!
17. Factory Life
19. End of the Day
Thomas Clausen (piano)
Francesco Cali (accordion)
Danish pianist Thomas Clausen has appeared before on the Stunt label with a
quartet playing numbers by Horace Parlan, but this particular collaboration
with accordionist Francesco Cali can hardly be called a jazz album at all.
This is Clausen's music for a play called "The Arrival" first performed in
2015. The play is based on a graphic novel by Shaun Tan, and the music is
written to accompany each picture from the book as shown in the same way as
a silent movie. The music is therefore illustrative, and Clausen has taken
seriously the tradition of narrative vignettes that form a tale, often
giving them a poignancy and melancholic atmosphere, but introducing the
necessary energy into some scenes such as Street Life No. 2. Factory Life has a nice little feature that uses the accordion
like a whistle, and heavy tread of The Soldier's Tale is a little
like a splinter from Kurt Weill's workbench - there is certainly no
shortage of ideas.
There might be a temptation to add a touch of melodrama, and titles such as Horror Story suggest the potential for stereotype. This turns into
more of a chase however, and there is no resort to tremulous or screechy
special effects. Busy tracks such as People leave less to the
imagination, but are never less than highly evocative and effective.
Musical themes tend not to be repeated overtly or treated much to variation
form, though there is a consistency of style that makes this into a nicely
coherent whole. Certain accompaniment figures such as the after-the-beat
repeated chords that indicate activity, and a recurring whole-tone modality
help in this regard. The accordion would seem to make Tango associations a
shoe-in, but these are few and far between. Only Reunion goes
full-on in that regard, doing the ghost of Piazzolla proud. There are
however no really memorable 'big tunes' which you will find yourself
whistling for days afterwards.
There is a slight sameness to the combination of piano and accordion that
might put you off, though the sheer musicianship and creativity on show
here keeps the ball rolling along and interest afloat. As I say, this is by
no means a typical jazz album, being more in a long tradition of poetic
music for artistic animated films. As such it is very high quality indeed,
and deserves a wide audience. A DVD including the images for which the
music was written would however be a more ideal package.