Daniel Janke Winter Trio: Available Light

The Yukon-based pianist-composer recorded the album with two European musicians in France

Daniel Janke Winter Trio: Available Light

Pianist Daniel Janke's album Available Light is credited to his Winter Trio, referencing the wild swings in how often you see the sun from his home territory of Yukon. However, he recorded the album with two European musicians rounding out his trio, in France.

Falling somewhere between Keith Jarrett and Hozier, this trio includes little bebop language. It's an instrumental roots project in a few days, summed-up by the amen cadences and the free playing on the root of "Blessed Assurance". The bass solos are some of my favorite parts of the album, like on "Giant" and "Gospel for Betty".

The drums sound lively and fresh, the compositions romantic-impressionistic. The project has some free-improv flavour without ever fully blowing the top off into an avant-garde space. I didn't just say Keith Jarrett earlier because of the vocalizations you can hear, but they're there.

"Man of Constant Sorrow" is not really recognizable as the trad tune, as Janke doesn't really lean into that melody. It's intense, there's a lot going on, and it ends so suddenly. The sound quality is not necessarily pristine, but it's interesting in a rugged sort of way.

The first two tunes encompass all the moods on the album quite nicely. Janke, who splits his time between Canada and Germany, has played with other musicians under the Winter Trio moniker: bassist Paul Bergman and drummer Ken Searcy join him for the trio's two previous albums, Muse (2018) and a self-titled 2016 release. The group's name staying the same is a statement that the vibe carries through, even though there's different people playing in it on a different continent. (It's like how we know Bruno Hubert's current trio, emerging with James Meger and Joe Poole, can still make us feel the feelings of his classic one with André Lachance and Brad Turner.)

Janke's Winter Trio material is hefty enough for a hall or a big stage, as opposed to a jazz club. This is concert music, not gig fare. I'll have to watch for my first opportunity to hear the pianist and composer's full presence live, when there's sufficient time, space, and natural light to set the scene.

released Apr. 19, 2024 / Buy CD & digital (Bandcamp) / available on streaming