**** “Gestrin and his musical associates pursue ambient dreamscapes and climactically driven passages throughout this beautifully recorded production.”
— Glenn Astarita, Allmusic.com
Chris Gestrin is a great new talent, a Vancouver-based pianist, keyboardist and composer who might occasionally put you in mind of Bill Evans or Keith Jarrett, if either of those masters were young today and equally at home with the acoustic and the electronic, jazz and ambient. His handpicked, versatile quintet, featuring trumpeter Brad Turner (of the Canadian band Metalwood) and masterful drummer Dylan van der Schyff, creates rich images in sound. From a tender solo piano improvisation to swirling group inventions, a “narrative” of almost cinematic sweep unfolds. Gestrin’s compositions range across jazz, experimental music, new age and world music for their ideas, but this is not “fusion” in any ordinary sense, there is too much originality and panache for that. The multi-channel remix opens on an imaginary environment that connoisseurs of surround sound, whether jazz fans or not, will surely appreciate.
Born just outside Vancouver in 1972, Chris Gestrin graduated from Boston’s Berklee College of Music in 1995 and was top prize-winner of the 1996 Europ’ Jazz Contest. He has become one of Vancouver’s busiest pianists, keyboardists, effects artists, and soundtrack composers. He is a member of groups led by Kate Hammett-Vaughan, Chris Tarry, and Brad Turner, and co-leads or performs in many other bands of various kinds, from funk and soul jazz to less categorical combinations of jazz, fusion, ambient, and improv. He has recorded with roots musicians Zubot and Dawson and hip-hop artists The Rascalz and K-OS, and his music has been featured on Dark Angel and The Outer Limits. His current trio (with Andre Lachance and Dylan van der Schyff) and an earlier quartet have CDs on Maximum Jazz.
**** “Gestrin’s music is rounding so swiftly into shape that it’s hard to believe this 30-year-old pianist-composer from Vancouver is largely unknown outside his hometown. Stillpoint…is something wonderful. Here, a stark and brooding trio abstraction turns into a perfectly imagined 72-minute soundscape, a stunning and beautiful network of impromptu acts and through-composed bits. Bringing many sources to mind — Weather Report’s orchestra detail and ECM’s more cinematic stuff…Stillpoint bristles with action and fresh, absorbing ideas. Gestrin never panders emotionally and he’s got a real gift for making a handful of musicians sound remarkably like a dozen…Extended techniques and plain, handsome sounds are modestly wrapped and quietly submerged into the design…Songlines must have had Stillpoint in mind when it moved over to Super Audio CDs. It’s simply an exquisite sonic treatment, something commensurate to Gestrin’s rare and far-reaching vision.” — Greg Buium, Downbeat
“From the lineup this may look like a heavy fusion session, but nothing could be further from the facts. The Vancouver, B.C.-based keyboardist admits to a heavily ECM-influenced sound and also says ‘the term New Age comes to mind, but not New Age as in rain falling while I’m in the bath with my crystals – it’s more like a soundtrack to a film that doesn’t exist.’ That seems to say it all here. Not at all electronic-sounding, Gestrin’s dozen works – all either his sole compositions or shared with others in the group – are subtle and thoughtful creations exhibiting his love of experimentation and improvisation…The title Stillpoint is perfect for the album – it’s the Buddhist idea of being content with exactly where you are and not worrying about what has happened or is about to happen. Some of the tracks approach a sort of very musical musique concrete – Complex One/City has sounds like slamming doors which mesh with the various percussion sounds behind the trumpet, sax and piano. Cliffs and Clouds has a lovely soprano sax solo over what sounded to me like musical glasses struck with silverware – the notes credit the sound to ‘potlids.’…Sonics are super-clean, detailed and spatially located with great precision…’ear-stretching’ – as Charles Ives would put it.” — John Henry, Audiophile Audition
“There’s a sense of unquiet about Chris Gestrin’s Songlines debut, Stillpoint. As for the quiet part, the pianist and his quintet do spend quite a bit of time perusing the open spaces of tranquility and distance. This is not a loud record. Gestrin’s solo piece ‘This Past Tuesday’ has a strongly meditative quality, sounding like a slowed-down John Taylor attuned to Bartok. But it, like so many softer moments on the record, is surrounded by eerie streaks of light and sharpness. It’s this conscious juxtaposition of contrasting emotional dynamics that distinguishes Gestrin’s work. His approach should entrance open-minded listeners…Everyone in the group except bassist André Lachance also periodically plugs into the electronic effects which constantly thread through the music…as with the plaintive, iridescent saxophone on ‘Words Along A Wire’…These tools integrate seamlessly into the music, contributing at all levels…Uneasy? Yes. But the combination goes far beyond the relentlessly unpredictable dynamics of British free improv, for example. It’s far too organized, despite its regular surprises and suggestions. That makes it simultaneously more accessible and more connected to the specific elements that Gestrin brings together: ambient, electronic, traditional jazz, free improv, and modern classical. While the group certainly functions as a very productive and integrated unit, it’s clear that the vision behind Stillpoint is singular. In a very postmodern sense Gestrin seeks to bring together some unusual combinations and create something genuinely new. His effort is extremely successful.” — Nils Jacobson, AllAboutJazz.com