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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Max Johnson Trio - The Invisible Trio (Fresh Sound Records, 2014) ****

I had the luck to attend the launch event of The Invisible Trio in New York last month. When the trio played this slow and beautiful tune, I kept wracking my brain about what melody it was, scanning my memory disk, going over all the jazz greats to capture what was eluding me, and this without luck. Until Max Johnson said that they had just played Abba's "Money, Money", and I could have slapped my head, because of course, that's what it was, but then in a version that was miles above the original, or rather, that captured something great in the Abba tune that I never had identified. Or to put it differently, they create beauty out of little. A great feat. That tune is to be found on "Elevated Vegetation", reviewed before on this blog. We also recommend you check the review of the "Max Johnson Quartet".

The trio is Max Johnson on bass, Ziv Ravitz on drums and the - inevitable - Kirk Knuffke on cornet. The trio's playing is rooted in jazz tradition, relatively accessible without being mainstream. Johnson's compositions are sketchy, leaving lots of room for improvisation and abstract developments. The sound is warm, intimate and compelling,

Some tracks, such as "Don Wrinkles" are based on a solid boppish theme and rhythm, including walking bass, solid pulse on the drums and soaring soloing by Knuffke, others, like "A Pair Of Glasses", sound like warm cool jazz, and still other parts, like the title track, are more abstract. But the accessibility and the free form of the improvisation are perfectly joined here, and the playing by all three musicians is a real treat for the ear, and the heart.

Listen and download from Bandcamp.


Craig Premo said...

Yes, this is a really nice CD. I was impressed by everyone in the trio.