Philippe Le Baraillec is an (all too) rare pearl with just three albums to his name over the last 15 years. Suffice it to say that his fourth is hotly anticipated. The pianist has once again got together with producer Jean-Jacques Pussiau, who worked with him on his acclaimed first recordings on Owl Records’s “Echoes from my room”. The album title that he has chosen, “Involved”, reveals for those people who don’t know him Philippe Le Baraillec’s true identity – that of a committed, involved artist. Taught by Samy Abenaïm in the classical tradition, the pianist later discovered a form of serenity through teaching at the Bill Evans Piano Academy under the direction of Bernard Maury, admitting: “This music demands total immersion.” Eight of the nine tracks on the album are his own compositions and display a rich imagination via suggestion, rather than imposition, allowing the listener to dream and construct their own impressions. Listening to the only solo piano piece, “La toupie” (The spinning top), allows the clearest glimpse into Le Baraillec’s constant search for inner balance. On this quest for serenity, the pianist benefits from close-knit collaboration rich in nuances as their reprise of the Sonny Rollins hit “St. Thomas” bears witness. Le Baraillec’s rhythm section includes both the Japanese drummer Ichiro Onoé, who has been with on and off for over 25 years in Japan, the United States and France with people such as Bobby Few, Tom McClung, Rasul Siddik, Mina Agossi; and the Italian bassist Mauro Gargano, who regularly plays alongside Paolo Fresu, Bruno Angelini and Michel Legrand. The trio joins forces for the first time with a horn player, the American tenor saxophonist Chris Cheek. A prolific musician with 60 albums to his name, Cheek counts Paul Motian, Brian Blade, Carla Bley, Steve Swallow among his admirers. Chris Cheek brings sensitivity and poignancy to the album. In less than an hour, Philippe Le Baraillec establishes himself as one of the great jazz poets with “Involved”. A musician who is both single-minded and versatile.