PIANIST/COMPOSER VICTOR GOULD FOREGROUNDS HIS SUBLIME TRIO ARTISTRY ON FOURTH ALBUM AS LEADER, IN OUR TIME
Featuring bassist Tamir Shmerling and drummer Anwar Marshall, plus special guest tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens (on two tracks), and a closing string quartet benediction to all those lost in the COVID-19 pandemic
Available September 3, 2021 from Blue Room Music
Hailed by Downbeat as “a new and important compositional voice,” pianist Victor Gould has earned acclaim as a leader with Clockwork (Debut of the Year, 2016 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll), Earthlings and Thoughts Become Things — three inaugural recordings that established Gould not only as a fine pianist but a composer of depth and substance, adeptly orchestrating for ensembles with horns and strings in varied combinations. On his fourth outing, In Our Time, Gould turns his focus largely to the venerable piano trio format. The album features a lineup that’s special to Gould, one he’s been nurturing as a long-term prospect with bassist Tamir Shmerling and drummer Anwar Marshall.
Co-produced by Gould’s dear friend and Blue Room Music labelmate Godwin Louis (alto saxophonist on Gould’s first three albums), In Our Time presents mainly new and compelling original compositions by Gould, as well as an uptempo reworking of “Resilience” from Earthlings that leads off the album with a vivid display of the trio’s refined chemistry. Tenor sax master and fellow Monk Institute alumnus Dayna Stephens, who appeared on Gould’s Thoughts Become Things, returns as a guest for a churning polyrhythmic treatment of Gigi Gryce’s “Minority” and a striking midtempo swing interpretation of the Wayne Shorter ballad “Infant Eyes.”
For Gould, having time at home during the pandemic to focus intently on the piano clinched the decision to turn the spotlight on his own commanding piano presence for this effort. Another motivating factor for In Our Time was to pay homage to dear departed mentors, including the Wallace Roney (“Lord Wallace”) and Ralph Peterson, Jr. (“Dear Ralph”). “I was a member of Wallace’s band for four years,” says Gould in the liner notes, “and we made the album Understanding. He had such a big impact on my life, hiring me right after I moved to New York.” In addition to years of small-group work, Gould held the piano chair in Roney’s large ensemble, which premiered the long-lost Wayne Shorter opus “Universe” in 2013. Peterson, for his part, was one of Gould’s professors at Berklee and asked the pianist to join his band during freshman year, a major breakthrough. Gould later played on Peterson’s The Duality Perspective.
“In Memoriam,” a moving reflection on the incalculable losses from COVID-19 (including Roney and too many others from the jazz world), is derived from a through-composed work called “Side Angle.” Gould composed the piece for jazz sextet in 2010, then expanded it for orchestra and won Loyola University’s Concerto, Aria and Composition Competition in 2011. Here the piece is presented in its string quartet incarnation (with violinists Yoojin Park and Monica Re Martin, violist Erica Gailing and cellist Dale Jeong), giving it a new expressive intent as a meditative finale.
The recipient of a 2020 Chamber Music America grant, Gould was inspired to write the complex and multifaceted “Blue Lotus,” a vibrant contrast with the introspective ballad “Showtime.” “Ascension” was premiered as the leadoff track from the 2020 album of the same name by the Black Art Jazz Collective, a sextet nominally led by Wayne Escoffery and Jeremy Pelt. Gould’s contribution is thoroughly modern with a hard-swinging element at the core, reframed here in a trio setting with Shmerling, Marshall and the leader fully in the spotlight.
“In Our Time,” with its animated 6/8 feel and rich and flowing counterpoint, brings us deeper still into the trio’s intimate world. Reflecting on the title in the notes, Gould takes a philosophical tone: “The fact that we’re all contemporaries, sharing this lifetime in common, is something very special. We’re all alive at the same time. It’s our time. The fact that we’re even alive during this time should mean that we can relate on some level.”
Born in Los Angeles and now based near New York, Gould has amassed impressive credits as a leader and also a key member of groups led by Jeremy Pelt, Jazzmeia Horn, Wallace Roney, Ralph Peterson and more. He has also worked with Esperanza Spalding, Terence Blanchard, Branford Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Donald Harrison, Buster Williams and many others. He began his auspicious rise as one of the first-ever recipients of Berklee’s Herbie Hancock Presidential Scholarship. After completing his bachelor’s degree he studied at the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at Loyola University, receiving a Master’s in Music. His honors include a 2020 Chamber Music America grant, first place in Loyola University’s 2011 Concerto, Aria and Composition Competition, a 2009 ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award, and semi-finalist status in the 2006 Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition.