Scrampion Records 2015
Reviewed by Gavin Franklin, September 1st, 2015
The ethos of this ensemble is established from the opening drumming introduction to the tune entitled The 16th Hour. The composition proper is a rhythmic study of considerable collective complexity as threes overlay fours. The whole seems to be resolved by the collective understanding of the trio. Resolving differences is a feature of this album. The members of the group know very well their roles and the music they are generating collectively. They also move in and out of individual solos seamlessly.
Paralysed, the second tune lives up to its name as it remains static, the pianist exploring some introverted licks for some time before the melody kicks in. Even after we hear a whistlable tune, the piece retreats into its introverted earlier repeated motive. The piano solo consists almost entirely of melody accompanied by low repeated syncopated bass notes and busy Latin drumming. After the solo, the initial paralysis of repeating motives returns to close this very original track. The whole has an air of stasis or returning to more or less static beginnings, evoking a sense of inability to progress in a logical direction. Even during the active sections of the piano solo there is a pervading constraint, each section returning to its beginning idea. It is an effective and satisfying piece of work.
The central composition entitled When the Talking Stops is the only track on the CD that starts without a musical introduction by one of the trio members. Beginning with a comfortable funky rhythmic feel, which does not last for long, this piece explores a variety of complex rhythms. Ed Rodrigues, the group’s drummer, is an important element in this work as the music weaves in and out of its panoply of rhythms. The bass player and pianist can always rely on him to be with them when they move. This track demonstrates some fine communication between the three protagonists as well as how thoroughly each member has internalized the music being produced.
The introduction to Clouded, the final track on the CD is improvised by Bill Williams, the group’s bass player. It explores several techniques of contemporary bass playing such as use of harmonics, chord playing and free tempo melodic links. At a suitable point in the bass improvisation, the pianist introduces the main body of Clouded, the longest track on the recording. Williams then continues his solo, followed by one from Golden on piano. The role of bass and drums during the piano solo is by no means mere accompaniment. The whole might be better characterized as a lively conversation between three equal partners. The drummer’s solo towards the end of this track is even more intensely a ‘conversation’ as each trio member strives to be heard interjecting material in support of the soloist. In true jazz fashion, the argument is resolved by a return to some of the original material from the beginning of the track.
My initial reaction to this CD was not as enthusiastic as it has become following repeated hearings. The playing is extremely competent and the music evokes a sense of conflict and resolution that is most satisfying. The Casey Golden Trio is another contemporary ensemble of this genre on my radar.