Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Piano Trio CJ3 Plays King Crimson

Any group that sustains a long-term success artistically and commercially stands to be subjected to the tribute album. King Crimson certainly has been a group that qualifies. The ordinary album of this kind consists of a number of better or lesser known artists playing from the repertory, one hopes in distinctive ways, but alas, not always.

The CJ3 (Crimson Jazz Trio) and their King Crimson Songbook, Volume 2 (Inner Knot) is a different proposition altogether. This is a jazz piano trio with Crimson sometime drummer Ian Wallace joined by Jody Nardone on piano and Tim Landers on bass. They play an interesting mix of KC tunes, including the song that started things off way back, "In the Court of the Crimson King." Mel Collins, associated with KJ at certain critical points, plays sax on part of the album as special guest, and he still sounds good.

Rhythmic transformation and displacement are the principal arranging devices used by the band. They turn rock to jazztime, they re-rhythmatize passages, they alter tempos. Of course there can be reharmonizations too. What you get in the end is a trio that still has the rock energy level but totally refreshes songs very familiar to any Crimson fan. Oh yes, it's good jazz too. Maybe not at the level of the Bill Evans Trio at its peak, but who is that good?

If you are a fan and want something different, this is a good bet. For the jazz listener sick of the same old standards, this one will recharge you too. It may not be a classic of classics, but it's quite wearable, like a comfortable pair of socks you can put on anytime and be sure of the right feel. Like that.

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