Thursday, June 19, 2014

Matt Newton, Within Reach

The piano trio and small ensemble modern jazz in general often depend on a little discussed aspect of the sound to get the full spirit of the music in motion. I mean the ride cymbal of the very best drummers, how he (or she) sounds it and how it is recorded as a part of the overall mix. Two recording venues come to mind, the Van Gelder studios and how Rudy captures the cymbal sound--of Elvin Jones in the classic Tyner and Trane dates, for example; and the large downtown Columbia Studios in New York back in the day and how Columbia engineers got Tony Williams's cymbal (and his set in general) to roar in those pre-electric Miles Davis ensembles. Of course the way Elvin and Tony activated their ride cymbals in their own special ways made it possible to get that sound.

Anyway we come up the years to now and a Matt Newton piano trio album Within Reach (FTM 906). I had not known Matt's playing well until now. He is up there in Canada most of the time, I outside of New York City. But after hearing Within Reach I feel I know his playing, and it's very, very good.

And yes, drummer Ethan Ardelli gets a beautiful leverage on his ride cymbal--it rings out fully and rhythmically in a hip way. It's captured in an excellent balance with the sound of his kit. He is a player! And he sets up things so that bassist Dan Fortin has space to sound through it and Matt floats atop. Fortin does good things on this set too, both solo and ensemble-wise.

And so we have a kind of ideal setting to hear Matt. He is harmonically active and acute with a beautiful touch and great ideas, a sense of space and when to play, then of course what to play. Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea come to mind as forebears, certainly, and Matt takes that basic premise and goes someplace very good with it.

One piece is by Dan Fortin, the rest by Matt and they are excellent vehicles that hold their own and give the trio something to dig into. One number adds Felicity Williams on wordless vocals and Harley Card on guitar; both nicely bolster the melody line set down by Matt's electric piano.

In the end you have some really good piano trio music here by three players that deserve a hearing and more exposure. I am so pleased with this one I eagerly anticipate the next. Meanwhile check this one out!

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