What do you think of when you see the words “no comment”? I tend to think of the sentiment “screw you, I’m not talking” when a little journalistic probing puts someone on the spot. Jazz pianist Augusto Pirodda has a softer slant on the phrase. He had just finished recording an entire album’s worth of material with Gary Peacock and Paul Motian, two revered grandpas of their instruments that have achieved more than a lifetime’s worth of credits and accolades. He picked up the CD-R of the mixes, wrote down the names of the three musicians, and couldn’t think of anything else to add. So he wrote No Comment. Lucky for him he recorded a song with that same title.
This is admirable. Sardinian-born Pirodda knows a good thing when he sees and hears it. His decision to bring Peacock and Motian aboard was not motivated by ego but respect. Pirodda said he simply wanted these two guys to do what they normally do. And considering that No Comment is his fifth album, this respect probably runs two ways. So…you’ve got a talented young man leading the way with two hardened veterans with nothing left to prove. This could be a substantial meeting of the minds, post-bop jazz acting as a baton in the relay of music history. Peel it all back and — no comment.
It’s difficult to set your piano trio apart from everyone else’s. Sure, the piano can be beautifully versatile but the vocabulary it embodies when matched with an acoustic bass and a drum set can, depending on the performer in question, draw boundary lines pretty damn quick. A drummer of Paul Motian’s standing can provide an ebb and flow that most jazz musicians can only dream of conjuring, but his timekeeping with Pirodda only rewards the listeners who stay alert long enough to hear his shifting emphases on “So?” and his swift gliding over “Brrribop!!!,” the only upbeat piece on the album. Should you break out a magnifying glass to trace the differences between Pirodda’s all-star trio and the various other jazz piano trios that make their rounds every year — no comment.
Augusto Pirodda has written a majority of the songs on No Comment with exceptions of a couple of Manolo Cabras covers and a couple of group improvisations. These tunes do an exceptional job of not calling attention to themselves, not breaking a certain dynamic level and not playing with anyone’s preconceived notions of harmony or tonality to the point where it would catch the layman off-guard. On more than one occasion, this album has ended without me really noticing. So whether you are tuning in to the compositional telepathy of these three guys or if you are trying to zero in on Augusto Pirodda’s melodic strengths and separate them from any potential weaknesses — no comment.
With the exception of “Brrribop!!!,” No Comment is not guaranteed to snag your attention. It’s a kinder, gentler piano trio album that plays with jazz charts as if they were made with rubber. This is a fine attribute, one that can enthrall listeners as easily as it can bore them. And as Augusto Pirodda set out to make this album, such superficial concerns probably weren’t even tucked into the back of his mind. His dream team was his mission. Any other areas of concern surely deserve — no comment.