Dec 19 2016
Vind – Vind (Self-Produced)
This is an album with three strands of melody that are perpetually intertwining, the weaving patterns complex and the beauty so very simple. The trio of pianist Sandrine Machetti, guitarist Paul Jarret and the (mostly) wordless vocals of Loïs Le Van create an arresting melodic atmosphere that is about as enchanting as it gets. This is music that is completely tranquil, even when the trio raises up their voice… the serenity remains. Aside from a rendition of “Julia,” there are no songs here, per se, replaced, instead, by the metamorphosis of imagery, one vague shape after the other. This is seriously gorgeous music.
Your album personnel: Sandrine Marchetti (piano), Loïs Le Van (voice) and Paul Jarret (guitar).
Eric Johnson – Train to Enkenbach (Self-Produced)
The melodies sort of rumble along on this interesting quintet session from saxophonist Eric Johnson, and the sense that it isn’t a singular motion driving them ahead adds an undercurrent of tension to what amounts to some rather arresting statements. The quintet features the alto sax and Rhodes of Peter Epstein and Adam Benjamin; the former adds some nifty textures to the contributions from Johnson’s tenor sax, while the latter is focused on providing essential contrast. “Lonely Lama” is a rare instance where they take a more conventional approach, and it really brings to light just how dynamic this group is. Also nice to feature an album that comes out of the Reno, Nevada scene.
Your album personnel: Eric Johnson (tenor sax), Peter Epstein (alto sax), Adam Benjamin (Rhodes), Jordan Keach (bass) and Tyler Cravines (drums).
Knuckleball – Knuckleball (Gold Bolus Recordings)
There’s nothing random about how the trio of drummer Devin Gray, trumpeter Daniel Levine and pianist Marc Hannaford named themselves. Nothing about the melodies of their self-titled debut is straight-forward. Keeping an eye on them is difficult enough without taking into account the trouble of keeping up with the rhythmic motion. At first, the music is unpleasantly dizzying. But once adapted to the peculiar motions and odd melodicism, the element of fun rises to the surface, and keeping track of where the music is going at any one moment becomes a secondary consideration to simply accepting what comes your way. It’s a simpler way to listen to complex music, and has the added benefit of opening a window to a view of some pretty thrilling music.
Your album personnel: Daniel Levine (trumpet), Marc Hannaford (piano), and Devin Gray (drums).
Inventions & Dimensions – Wabi Sabi EP (Self-Produced)
More often than not, the melodies of the Inventions & Dimensions trio roll along like a road trip… the scenery changes from city to city, interstate to countryside and back again, and yet even with all of that differentiation, the changes still come off as being interconnected by the journey from the beginning of the song to its final destination. That the Minneapolis-based trio of bassist Chris Bates, pianist Joe Strachan and drummer Matt Buckner are able to pull this off and still keep the music solidly in modern straight-ahead territory is more than a little impressive. But more to the point, the music is more than a little bit enjoyable. Much more.
Your album personnel: Chris Bates (bass), Joe Strachan (piano) and Matt Buckner (drums).
Coexistence Trio – Momentum Forward (Self-Produced)
This Denver-based trio situates themselves dead center of the modern piano trio landscape. They shoot melodies out as crisp phrases, then run with them as far as they can, eventually returning back to the opening just before closing up shop on the song. Brisk tempos can pretty much be counted on across the board. On their Bandcamp page, the trio states that if you like GoGo Penguin, you’ll like Coexistence Trio… and in as much as that kind of comparative statement goes, it’s pretty accurate. The music is plenty enjoyable, if somewhat ordinary. But what earned the album a recommendation in today’s column are the passages in “Deep Space” and “Distorted Talks” when the trio released their foot from the gas pedal and showed some patience with those crisp melodies. Damn, they get an evocative tone, and the music resonates with more strength than all of the up-tempo pieces combined. It’s a promising sign, and it’d be interested to see what happens if it’s a direction they spend more time pursuing.
Your album personnel: Peter John Stoltzman (piano), Andreas Schmid (drums) and John Grigsby (bass).