'In a Moment' is the third in a trilogy of recordings Berger has done for Tzadik, though this writer hasn't heard the prior two, one a solo piano venture, the other a piano trio. Indeed, it's been quite some time since I've heard music from Berger at all, so the reader might take that under advisement. That said, there are strains on the present album that very much recall some of his earlier music, including that from the 60s and 70s.
The album consists of fourteen fairly short tracks (ranging from a little over a minute to a bit over five), quiet pieces with a kind of chamber-jazz aura, played by a sextet of strings (Sana Nagano, violin; Jason Hwang and Larry Packer, violas; Tomas Ulrich and Gabriel Dresdale, celli; and stalwart Ken Filiano, bass), intertwined with Berger's piano. Several of the tracks are solo piano, including a welcome revival of two Berger compositions, 'Fragments' and 'd'Accord', first heard on his wonderful duo album with Dave Holland, 'All Kinds of Time', recorded for Sackville in 1976.
The writing for the high strings is gentle, with the kind of "classical" tinge not uncommon in the American tradition heard in, say, William Bolcom, i.e., aware of various folk and jazz traditions, melding them with European ones, but without regard to serialism, Cage, minimalism, etc. (Berger, though German-born, has lived in the US since at least 1972). A more contemporary point of reference might be the music of Robin Holcomb. Filiano and Berger often — not always — supply the more jazzy or bluesy colors. Lyricism rules the day, apart from occasional agitated cries as heard on the part of the violas in 'Allaba'. Generally, matters are pensive, considered, benevolent. The string writing is clear and accessible, the piano well integrated. Depending on tastes, one might have wished for somewhat more adventurousness, but as is, Berger's music is satisfyingly well crafted and extremely well performed by the cast at hand.
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