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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Trio X - Roulette At Location One (Cadence, 2006) *****

A moment of joy. New CDs are entering the new year and Roulette At Location One by Trio X is already reserving its space on the rankings of best-of-2007. Duval starts the first piece, Funny Valentines of War, with a contemplative bass, to be joined after several minutes by the sparce notes of Joe McPhee on sax and Jay Rosen on drums. After four minutes Duval and Rosen bring in a stomping rhythm, while McPhee remains contemplative with a serene and slow rendering of My Funny Valentine. The contrast between rhythm section and sax is big, but then McPhee lets loose and the theme turns more into "war" than "my funny valentine", just to change the mood again into a fragile and subdued interplay, ending a lightly funky mode. The second piece, Improv of Melodies and Themes, brings a loose collection of known themes, with Lonely Woman being the center-piece. This composition by Ornette Coleman, with McPhee on soprano and Duval on arco bass, is gloomier and sadder than ever. These are pieces which the trio has often played before and they master the themes to perfection, yet still managing to bring them in a refreshingly innovative way. The same level, with recognizable themes throughout (Ellington, Monk), is kept up on the rest of the live album. The variation between serene pieces and intense passages, the technical mastery and the telepathic interplay of the three musicians, is absolutely stellar. The small crowd attending the performance is enthusiastic, and rightly so. This is what music is all about. Highly recommended.
Can be downloaded via iTunes.