Victor Gould | “Thoughts Become Things” | Available July 12 via Blue Room Music
Pianist/Composer Victor Gould Reaches New Melodic and Conceptual Heights on Thoughts Become Things
Available July 12 on Blue Room Music
Joined by Stellar Cast Including Jeremy Pelt,
Godwin Louis, Dayna Stephens, Anne Drummond,
Vicente Archer & Rodney Green
Gould Weaves Intricate Textures on Third Outing as a Leader
Hailed as “a composer of great ambition and skill” from All About Jazz, pianist Victor Gould returns in brilliant form on Thoughts Become Things, his third album as a leader. In the spirit of his 2016 debutClockwork, Gould constructs a rich and involved ensemble sound with multiple horns, string quartet and percussion along with bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Rodney Green in the rhythm section.
But taking a page from his 2018 sophomore release Earthlings, a more stripped down and piano-centric effort appears, Gould features his piano virtuosity to a greater degree on Thoughts Become Things, highlighting one horn soloist per song and foregrounding his consummate skill as a player — a quality that has earned this young pianist major engagements with Wallace Roney, Ralph Peterson, Terri Lyne Carrington, Donald Harrison, Louis Hayes, Vincent Herring, Eric Alexander and more.
Gould’s steadiest gig of late has been with trumpet sensation Jeremy Pelt, as documented on Make Noise!, Noir en Rouge: Live in Paris and Jeremy Pelt The Artist. Archer plays bass in Pelt’s band as well, along with percussionist Ismel Wignall; Gould recruited the lot of them for Thoughts Become Things. There’s been percussion, in fact, on every Gould album to date, as he explains in the liner notes: “I really love to accentuate the connection between the swing feel and African drums. The percussionists I’ve worked with so far have really accentuated African rhythm, and that’s an important connection to me.”
Flutist/alto flutist Anne Drummond, alto/soprano saxophonist Godwin Louis and tenor saxophonistDayna Stephens join Pelt, functioning as a vibrant horn section (and each as a brilliant soloist). We also hear from a full string quartet with Yoojin Park and Jim Tsao on violins, Jocelin Pan on viola and Susan Mandel on cello. Lucas Pino’s bass clarinet and Aaron Johnson’s bass trombone bring additional color and weight to the arrangements on several tracks.
Gould in the liner notes muses on the title Thoughts Become Things: “I’ve been thinking recently about how we manifest our own future, and how our thoughts mold our reality, both negative and positive.” The title track and other songs, including “Karma,” “Let Go” and “What Do We Need,” touch on this quasi-spiritual theme, elevating the perspective beyond the personal and individual to encompass the broader society. “The simplest rule,” Gould concludes, is “just to be kind to everyone and think positively.”
Anne Drummond’s role as a central melodic voice is clear throughout. Gould readily cites the importance of flute in his composing, not least because his father is a flutist; he grew up hearing the instrument live and on records. Drummond plays both flute and alto flute, the latter notably in a rousing solo on “October.” Godwin Louis, one of Gould’s dearest friends, stretches out on “Karma”; Dayna Stephens soars on tenor on “Let Go”; Jeremy Pelt shines not only on “Inheritance” but also with Gould on a luminous duo rendition of the standard “Polka Dots and Moonbeams.” Through it all, the lushly voiced horn harmonies and string counterpoint, buoyant percussion and tight, sophisticated rhythmic concept come together in what is for Gould a personal ideal: an instrumentation that can express the fullness of what he hears, yet light enough to allow the piano to speak, in some of the most fluid and mature improvising you will hear on the scene today. And in the sublime solo piano meditation “Brand New,” we hear from him even more directly, freely improvising out of tempo on a theme, opening the album in poetic style.
Thoughts Become Things, one could say, began as a thought; it is now a thing, a document charting Gould’s course, an experience to savor, from one of jazz’s very best.