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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

David Haney Trio - Blues Royale (CIMP, 2007) ****

For an avant-garde pianist to set up a program to cover the blues is quite exceptional. Traditional blues are in essence in contradiction to free music, because the harmonic development and chord progression are basically the same for every song. Free jazz or free improv are its exact opposite. And yet ... both genres share unique characteristics : improvisation, emotions and expressiveness. And pianist David Haney does exactly that : to turn the blues into a free format, using the non-formal characteristics as the essence of the music, assisted by two of today's best bass players : Michael Bisio and Adam Lane. And the overall result is impressive. The trio always has the 12-bar blues in mind, but the music evolves and moves to areas never explored in blues music before, into wild areas, of screeching arco basses and eery dissonant piano music, as in "Old Landmark" , yet always falling back onto the core material, or staying even relatively close to it, as in "Cardboard Watchdog" or "Blue Savannah", on which they stick to and improvise on the pentatonic blues scale. And some hold the absolute middle, like "Soul Of A Man", which starts with the saddest low and slow blues by the basses, then Haney takes over the traditional blues chords on piano, while the two basses start pooring their hearts out, in a slow outburst of agony and misery. Who would have guessed the blues contained all this fresh power? Adventurous, authentic and artistic - I like it!