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ALBUM REVIEW: "The Left Side of the Moon" 

Chantale Gagné

"The Left Side of the Moon"


Born in Quebec, Chantale Gagné studied jazz piano at McGill University and with Kenny Barron. With the release of her third album, "The Left Side of the Moon," she stakes a claim as one of the top emerging pianists in North America. Her trio, featuring Peter Washington (bass) and Lewis Nash (drums), is joined here by the superb saxophonist Steve Wilson on all but the first tune. Despite his absence, the slowly building "Mystere" is a fitting opener, indicative of the highly original flight of fancy to come.

Ten of the 11 tunes are by Gagné; the exception is a lovely arrangement of a children's song, "À La Claire Fontaine." Gagné is an excellent composer and a formidable soloist whether she is exploring a traditional mode on "Your Blues is my Blues" or venturing out over abstract chords on the Erik Satie-like "Up Again." With his slithering saxophones and lithe flute, Wilson is the second star throughout, with especially wonderful solos on the title tune and "Echoes." Nash and Washington are never less than masterful, vibrantly navigating the changes and time signatures at every turn.

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