As the album’s title suggests Phronesis changes the perception of jazz by viewing it from a different angle. Part of the Anglo-Danish band’s secret has been solving the problem of sonic transparency when piano (Ivo Neame), bass (Jasper Hoiby) and drums (Anton Eger) are played together, whether improvising or enunciating superbly crafted compositions. In most such trios the cymbals wash out the piano’s overtones while the piano swamps the bass. There’s no crime in having musical foregrounds and backgrounds, but the members of Phronesis have found how to bring all three instruments into equal focus for a remarkable proportion of the time, so that the music’s heart and soul lies in the micro-interaction.
Parallax is the finest iteration of this ideal so far, containing such gripping narratives as Hoiby’s Stillness, which seems to be the stillness before something especially nasty happens. Aided by exquisite recording the bass can loom monumentally from the piano’s dancing agitation and the intricate and dramatic puzzle being enacted by the drums. This band exemplifies the current state of the art – at least from one perspective.