Ever since Sonny Rollins'"Way Out West", the sax trio is possibly the most popular small ensemble after the piano trio. The horn's expressivity, volume and range explain its attractiveness for players and listeners alike, because it can carry the weight of a trio setting. That being said, it still requires creativity and a good sense of how to build tension to keep things captivating for a whole album.
Peter Brötzmann, Marino Pliakas, Michael Wertmüller - Full Blast/Black Hole (Atavistic, 2009)
Peter Brötzmann, Peeter Uuskyla, Peter Friis Nielsen - Noise Of Wings (Jazzwerkstatt, 2009)
Mokuto, Friis Nielsen's little percolating bass sounds often determine the overall tone of the piece. Brötzmann is wild as you would expect, but not violent for violence's sake, yet full of expressivity, passion and fire. Excellent re-issue.
Eddy Prévost - Invenio Ergo/Sum (Matchless, 2009)
Weird and totally improvised music, with one long track of thirty-seven minutes, with Massimo Magee on "amplified, feedback and acoustic prepared and unprepared tenor saxophone", Amos Manne on bass, guitar, whistles, and pipes, and Lee Noyes just plays drums.The improvisation, aptly called "Three's Company", is very much in the free improv tradition, without clear rhythmic or any other patterns, creating sonic intensity and interaction very much in the moment itself. Not bad at all.
The music can be downloaded free of charge from their website.
Zé Eduardo Unit - Live In Capuchos (Clean Feed, 2009)
Jesus Santandreu on tenor saxophone and Bruno Pedroso on drums. The compositions are very varied, full of creative twists and turns, but then they get unraveled to their essential core, improvised upon in the best free sense, and falling back to its more structured form. Sensitive playing and quite accessible.
JD Allen - Shine (Sunnyside, 2009)
This trio is possibly closest to mainstream of the whole list here, often hesitating to move into fiercer, more free environments, yet always falling back on the structures and patterns. That being said, the playing and the compositions are quite strong. J.D. Allen on tenor saxophone, Gregg August on bass and Rudy Royston on drums. Allen's playing is as warm as a southern breeze, his improvisations very melodic.