Big Ship could well prove to be one of the first agenda-setting piano trio albums of 2014. The work of Zurich-born pianist Christoph Stiefel’s Inner Language Trio, it’s a quite beautifully textured collection of 11 songs initial listens strongly suggest. Set to be released by Basho Records, the London label that has done much to grow the careers of pianists Gwilym Simcock and Kit Downes, this latest piano high flyer whose playing resembles Simcock’s approach slightly, is joined by Stiefel’s newly reconfigured Inner Language Trio on an album of his own compelling compositions where he’s playing with bassist Arne Huber and drummer Kevin Chesham. His style highly influenced in recent years by isorhythms, a concept derived from the polyphony of the early-Renaissance, here draws on the South African Township sound on opener ‘Thalatta’, and also encompasses a piano trio tradition that stretches back to Bill Evans’ 1960s work, as well as drawing on classical resources, with intimations of Ravel, for instance on ‘New May’.

Released on 24 February

Christoph Stiefel above