Contours is the debut album by the Dutch pianist Rogier Telderman and his Trio, which comprises of Guus Bakker on bass and Tuur Moens on drums and percussion.
Telderman claims to be inspired by many of the jazz greats, but has also been influenced by classical and minimalist musicians. In addition to his work with the Trio, he is also a member of Melphi, a vocal jazz quartet who met with widespread acclaim for their album Through The Looking Glass last year. He also plays with TEMKO, a quartet that claims to produce “minimal improvised chamber metal”, and Houdijk-Telderman, a duo with vibraphonist Vincent Houdijk. When you consider that Telderman is also a professor of Music Theatre at the Codarts Conservatory in Rotterdam, you have to wonder how he finds the time to juggle so many diverse projects.
But that diversity feeds into his jazz trio, which has a fresh, energetic feel to its playing, somewhat reminiscent of greatly-missed Esbjörn Svensson Trio (EST). The album opens with Goodbye, Monsieur Belkin, and one is immediately struck by Telderman’s clean, lyrical piano lines. There’s a slight air of melancholy to Bakker’s bass playing, whilst the drumming is subtle, and constantly evolving as the track progresses. Telderman claims that he loves to create stories, and that comes across clearly on tracks such as On A Tuesday. The dramatic, percussive piano rhythm and bowed bass eventually give way to a lovely solo by Telderman. Minor Conspiracy is one of the album’s many highlights, marked by a simple but gorgeous melody, and effective use of space by Bakker and Moens, who don’t overplay, but listen attentively to one another.
Both Sketch and Strange Place have a more cinematic vibe to them. The former would not sound out of place in a European art-house movie, whilst Strange Place, the longest track on the album, sounds more improvised, the tension gradually building over the course of its eight minutes.
Slippers and Skippy Mash are more groove-driven pieces. Slippers opens with some funky drumming by Tuur Moens, before Telderman comes in with some playful piano. The music eventually breaks down, giving way to a Monk-like solo, before building back up again. Skippy Mash, as the name suggests, skips along at a fair pace, and features some impressive interplay from the Trio. The album is brought to a quieter, more lyrical close by Waltz, which again demonstrates Telderman’s feel for melody.
Contours was released in December 2014 on RM Records, and is one of my favourite jazz albums of the year. Telderman is a gifted pianist and composer, with a good ear for melody, whilst Bakker and Moens help to keep the music vibrant and exciting. So far this year, the Trio has primarily played in Holland, but they clearly deserve wider recognition. As with EST, this band has potential crossover appeal beyond jazz enthusiasts, and could go far.