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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

ZMF Trio - Circle The Path (Drip Audio, 2007) ****

Rarely has a violin trio album started in such a haunting and captivating way, for a short and plaintive arco bass and violin drama with accentuating drums, aptly titled "Low, Dark and Slow". The second track breaks the mood by a high speed high energy unison theme, side-stepping expected evolutions in the tune with every few bars, adding power, dissonance and raw abrasiveness into the music. The trio consist of Jesse Zubot on violin and Jean Martin on drums, both from Vancouver, and Joe Fonda on acoustic bass. And when you think you've come to understand their approach, you get a "Slow Blues", the most traditional of jam band fall-back positions, but they handle it like you've never heard it before, back into the gloomy territory of the first track, and it becomes something entirely new. And that's the nice thing about this music. It is not avant-garde per se, but rooted in the jazz tradition and creative to the point that everything sounds fresh, the compositions, the overall tone, the interplay. The band is at its best in the slow pieces, when the voice of the violin does not get too mangled in the power of bass and drums, but manages to sound full and deep, as on "Wild Horse", another highlight of the album, in which Fonda plays a wonderful bass solo. The album closes with a reprise of the first piece, ending in power and beauty. I am not usually a fan of violin in jazz, but this one is definitely an exception.

(Thanks Michele for pointing out its existence!).

Listen and download from eMusic.