Trumpeter Brian Groder's trio with bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Jay Rosen is a real treat. Their album Reflexology is an expertly crafted mix of composition and improvisation that delivers something more than a sum of its parts.
Lacking a chordal instrument, the trio has a lot of space to fill, which they do - to some extent - while sticking to a more traditional jazz vocabulary. By this I mean, the musicians don't veer into extended technique or over-blowing to fill space, but rather through clever phrasing and counterpoint they connect the dots, still leaving plenty of breathing room in their music. Groder has a clear limpid tone and uses it to deliver his melodic ideas with precision, while Bisio and Rosen work together to ensure the type of solid foundation that reveals their years of playing together.
The opening track 'What Not' begins with a tense syncopated melody that plays against the counter motion of the sparse rhythm section. After a few moments, the group moves quickly into improvisation, interacting with aplomb. Another highlight is 'Veer,' about half way through the album. Bisio's simple but effective bass line is captivating as it underscores Groder's thoughtful playing. The bassist's own turn at the helm is just as effective, as he locks in tightly (but not to tightly) with Rosen with an evocative solo. Additionally, the track 'Tarried Breath', which seems like the most freely improvised track on the recording, kicks in with the bass, textural percussion and a languid melody that lingers hauntingly long after it ends.
Delicate and tastefully done, Reflexology is a solid and enjoyable album.
Available July 15.
Watch a recent concert appearance of the trio: