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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ton Trio II - On and On (Singlespeed Music, 2014) ****

By Paul Acquaro

Ton Trio II is Aram Shelton on alto saxophone, Scott Brown on bass and Alex Vittum playing drums, and together they deliver a showcase of musical dexterity and ideas that grabs you the moment the needle finds the groove, or the laser hits the disc, or the data streams to the player.

Vittum's pulsating drumming helps kick off the album with 'This Reminds Me'. Shelton soon enters with a simple but effective theme that re-emerges occasionally as the song develops. Building in intensity during his solo, Shelton plays it cool with precision and control. "We Were Told," track 3, begins with a deliberate tempo as Brown and Vittum provide delicate support to Shelton's plaintive melodic work. Brown takes his cues from the Shelton as he builds his solo, and when they are both freely improvising around the melody, the trio's telepathy is most acute. The music never let up, even through the last track "Turncoats", which begins with a folky melody but following a short martial drum passage, quickly becomes a driving affair.

On and On is a nicely balanced mix of composition and free playing. The restraint that the group retains throughout, and the time they take to develop the tracks, really helps to accentuate the melodies, the dynamics, and the general thoughtfulness of the playing. On and On is a nice ride from start to finish, free, composed, and otherwise.