Friday, September 14, 2007

Trio M - Big Picture (Cryptogramophone, 2007)

Trio M is a collective all-star trio made up of pianist Myra Melford, bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Matt Wilson. The group began playing together in early 2006 and worked several more gigs before coming together once more to record at the end of that year. They play a complex and progressive brand of modern jazz, improvising collectively on a wide range of material. The music if often quite percussive and aggressive, particularly on the title song "Big Picture" where very fast piano and drums are rooted by strong plucked bass. Melford adds some rippling Don Pullen like piano, leading to some exhilaratingly strong playing from all three musicians and culminating with percussive piano of Cecil Talyor like power. A slower spacier passage leads to the song's conclusion with bowed bass and cascading piano and percussion. "Modern Pine" is a little slower, taking a melodic mid-tempo approach. This is an enjoyable performance with subtle gear shifting to adjust tempo and pace. There is a traditional modern jazz sound here with the piano leading and bass and drums in support. Imagine the Mulgrew Miller trio jacked up on 20 oz. strong coffees and you get the idea. High pitched bowed bass introduces "Secrets to Tell You". Dresser's eerie sounding bowed bass is at the center of this song, taking the lead while piano and percussion ebb and flow around it, creating a haunting and evocative sound. "FreeKonomics" opens with fractured drums with plucked bass and probing piano. The pace increases to an abrupt conclusion with dark sounding piano. This is a powerful trio with the musicians deeply in sync with each other. While different instruments will occasionally take a lead role in particular improvisations, it is the collective integrity of the music that impresses the most. This is thoughtful and forward thinking jazz music which deserves widespread respect. (Release date: October 23, 2007)

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