A lovely album about music and words

Ever unpredictable, the enterprising label Bright Shiny Things will soon be releasing INK [BSTC-0148], an impressively conceived debut album from the boundary-breaking Merz Trio.

What an interesting concept it is to juxtapose readings of French poetry from the intensely creative intra-war period of 1914 onwards with French music of that time.

Here three extrodinary artists: pianist Lee Dionne, violinist Brigid Coleridge, and cellist Julia Yang share the poetic and journal works of Jean Cocteau, Charles Péguy, Anna de Noailles, Léon-Paul Fargue, Alain-Fournier, Blaise Cendrars, and Guillaume Apollinaire eloquently read by them back to back with movements from Maurice Ravel’s 1914 trio for piano, cello and violin, Lili Boulanger’s D’un vieux jardin, Nadia Boulanger’s Heures terns, Claude Debussy’s La plus que lente, Mélanie Bonis’ Morning, and Zortziko/Fandango, an original composition by the trio’s pianist Lee Dionne.

Not shying away from the world of pop/cabaret music the album includes Sous les ponts de Paris, as an homage to the American chanteuse Josephine Baker, who unbeknownst to many, worked underground in the French resistance during the German occupation of Paris.

Throughout the multiple tracks the trio’s playing is impeccably elegant, earmarked by unmannered musicianship and sui generis stylistic versatility. This listener heartily agrees with the insights put into words in the album’s liner notes:  “INK… is an album about music and words sharing their dark, untidy medium, spilling onto the page as notes and letters, and spoken into the world by voices and instruments… It is about how we put our ear to a distant time and what we might hear there, as well as how we bring these voices into the present…”