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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Trumpet Trios

By Stef

Oh yes, trumpet-bass-drums trios are still to my liking, and quite a lot even. Maybe somewhat late, but here are three albums which should not be missed by fans of the format, or fans of jazz tout court, and interestingly enough, two of those albums are led by bass-players.

Maciej Garbowski, Piotr Damasiewicz & William Soovik - Sesto Elemento (Fundacja Sluchaj, 2015)  ****½

The first one is led by Maciej Garbowski on double bass, with Piotr Damasiewicz on trumpet and William Soovik on drums. It is a brilliant journey into free improvisation, with the three instruments coloring space with broad sweeps or refined details, going deep into uncharted emotional territories, with sounds that are at times as liberating as they are oppressive, full of anguish and anxiety, or with blasts of joy, it is hard to tell, with other sentiments in between, the things without words but all too real, the feelings that are beyond expression in everyday life but who get their moment here, weird and wild, and so sensitive and moving and true. That is the 'sixth sense' of the title, revealing what can not be understood, and the way this trio does it is absolutely magnificent, compelling from beginning to end, and without exaggeration one of the most fascinating trumpet trios I've heard in years. What is even more to their credit is the use of their instruments, with little extended techniques, fully voiced trumpet and deep bass sounds and rustling percussion together creating an amazing listening experience. 

Highly recommendeed!

Max Johnson Trio - Something Familiar (Fresh Sound New Talent/Bandcamp, 2015) ****

The second one is this nice album by the Max Johnson Trio, led by bassist Max Johnson, with the omnipresent Kirk Knuffke on cornet and Ziv Ravitz on drums. The eight tracks are composed by Johnson, yet as can be expected leave much to the other band members to fill in. That makes it anything but 'familiar' as the title might wrongly suggest (although the theme vaguely reminds me of a Don Cherry tune), and sure it bops and dances with joy, and sure, the themes are tight and the band is disciplined, yet they break through the mould which increases the joy and the fun even more, adding surprises and lots of space for the other musicians (listen to the great drums solo and further leading on 'Cold Blood').  'Hammer Song' is another one worth mentioning, with a title that does correspond to the music, and a great bass solo by the leader. Only 'Les Vague' (sic) and 'Wind Song' - with great arco playing by Johnson - are melancholy and meditative, the other tracks are quite upbeat and uptempo.

A real treat.

Josh Berman Trio - A Dance And A Hop (Delmark, 2015) ****

More fun and musical joy is to be heard on this album, with Josh Berman on cornet, Jason Roebke on bass, and Frank Rosaly on drums. Here the title is more correct, because 'a dance and a hop' is exactly what you get. Also starting with boppish foundations, the trio demonstrates again that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. This is highly entertaining music, but then of the best kind, clever, inventive, creative with great interaction, and wonderful playing full of little surprises, which is so good, that it made me laugh out loud several times out of sheer joy. On 'Blues' Berman solidly colors outside of the lines, despite the gentle theme. On 'Your Uncle' Roebke gives us some foot-tapping bass solo, and 'Luggage' is a great drum piece with a trio outro. And 'Bridges' is so jazzy and great that you wonder why it took humanity so long to invent jazz.

Don't miss it!


Richard said...

For anyone looking for the Garbowski, it's on bandcamp: