Monday, July 4, 2011

Barcelona Holiday: Some Hip Piano Trio Music from Sperrazza-Sacks-Kamaguchi

If you dig a modern piano-bass-drums trio playing in a freebop zone, Barcelona Holiday (Fresh Sound New Talent 373) will get you feeling happy. The session came about while Jacob Sacks (piano), Masa Kamaguchi (bass) and Vinnie Sperrazza (drums) were gigging in Barcelona. They were obviously ready to record and Fresh Sound was there to give them a studio date.

Barcelona Holiday finds the trio tackling some familiar and less-familiar classics: Thad Jones' "Three in One," Monk's "Ugly Beauty," Parker's "Yardbird Suite", Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm" and "I Loves You Porgy," Ornette's "When Will the Blues Leave," and so on.

These are tunes that for the most part have been played and well-played by many. A challenge to make them ring out anew? Yes. But Sacks and company do that. They do it by the sheer joy of improvisation, the playful stretching of boundaries of time and space, the sheer exuberance of a nicely swinging ensemble picking through some choice solo possibilities and nailing it.

It doesn't matter who their influences have been. They are making first-class jazz that has the mark of immediacy, of in-the-moment improvisation that works because everybody goes to good places as a group and as soloists.

Occasionally I wonder (in a panicky sort of way) if the attention to tradition that we have seen so much of since around 1980 is degenerating into a school of manners, of etiquette, of sameness that some jazz programs seem to produce. I sometimes wonder if hearing the music has become like watching a school of fish swimming in synchronicity, darting here and there but as a unit, no one fish making much difference one way or another. I worry. Then I hear CDs like this and I feel better. Schooled these three are, yes. But they are not behaving like they are part of a school of fish. They go their way, with their own directional compass.

So for that and other reasons hinted at above I recommend this disk. I hope these three continue together and we get to hear more, that we get to appreciate future developments that will be in store for these players if they continue as they are going!

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