Saturday, March 07, 2020

Kenny Barron / Dave Holland Trio Featuring Johnathan Blake - Without Deception (Dare2 Records, 2020)

Building off of their 2014 duet album The Art of Conversation jazz masters Dave Holland on bass and Kenny Barron on piano meet with the highly regarded young drummer Johnathan Blake for an album of performances of original compositions as well as covers of the music of other artists. Barron's "Porto Alegre" is a bossa nova that has a jaunty rhythmic feeling to it, with the band deeply intertwined at a medium tempo, and Holland developing a melodic and taut bass solo framed by piano and light percussion. Barron's playing balances bright runs with lower bass notes, playing the whole instrument beautifully, while Blake moves in and around the other two, supporting and making tasteful asides. The title track "Without Deception" develops a graceful and flowing form with bright and tasteful piano playing sparkling notes over swinging bass and drums for an extended trio section. Holland solos in a deft manner weaving his bass through a thicket of percussion and piano chords, while Blake trades crisp sections with the pianist and bassist to excellent effect. "Speed Trap" has a thick and propulsive bass line with drums adding further momentum, and Barron responding with a nimble start / stop theme that solidifies this jittery and caffeinated track. The trio improvisation is complex and exciting, with the three musicians playing in a tightly wound and effective manner. Holland stretches out for a bass solo, his sound kneading and undulating, finally giving way to a section for Blake to make his presence felt with a potent and imaginative drum solo. Holland's own "Pass It On" has an excellent percussion opening, with bass and drums falling in to create a medium up tune with a fine rhythmic foundation. The music has a well defined and appealing groove to it, with the group improvising in a colorful manner, and the composer stretching out for another excellent bass solo, one of many that define the sound of this album. Thelonious Monk's "Worry Later" has a bright and infectious theme that is fast and joyous, with Blake providing a fine percussive rhythm while Barron and Holland burrow deep into the song itself, completing a wonderful three way improvised conversation. Blake is the key here, again trading solo sections with Barron and Holland, he's not the least bit intimidated playing with these legends, he's more than up to the task. This was a well done album, the music flows very easily and nothing is forced, with the trio taking the time to explore each of the the pieces presented here, mining them for the best nuggets of melody and improvisational inspiration. Without Deception -

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