Thursday, July 1, 2010

Trichotomy's "Variations:" Progressive Jazz?

Trichotomy. Tri-what-amy? OK you might not know of these guys. They are from Australia. A piano trio. Sean Foran on piano. John Parker, drums. Patrick Marchisella, drums. Unlike their piano trio compatriots, The Necks, they aren't into the purple haze of trance minimalism. But like The Necks, they seek to extend what a contemporary "jazz" piano-bass-drums unit might attempt. Now I don't suppose you'd be surprised if you found out that what that means is that you are not going to hear much in the way of blue notes, bop phrases, or for that matter, top-spinning labyrinths of free expression. Not a lot of it, anyway. All that is neutral. Neither good nor bad.

So is there something good going on here, or what? Well, yes, there is. What we have is a compositionally motivated chamber sort of music. That doesn't mean Bill Evans or Keith Jarrett, though there is some Evans in there, surely. It means though that there are some impressionist sorts of rarified harmonic clouds, some quiet and thoughtful phrasings. (Why is quiet music so often thoughtful? Is it because it makes you think about what you are hearing in between the spaces of sounds? No matter.) And so you get some pretty nice trio moments where Sean Foran draws on the classic touch, the harmonic and melodic sophistication-route.The quiet swing of a John Lewis, but not John Lewis. And bassist Marchisella obviously has gained something from absorbing the subtleties of cats like Gomez, Peacock, Lafaro. There are a few extra musical guest on a few cuts. They add to the sound, extending and reinforcing it. But the emphasis is always on the trio itself.

But again, there is a compositional element here that is nicely wrought and has a slight classical tinge to it. I have no doubt that many will respond to this, their third album, Variations (Naim Jazz 131). I did. It's another worthy trio. With it's own sound. Almost like a jazz equivalent of good progressive rock. So does that mean that this is a new kind of Brubeckism? Do we care? Remember Lester Bowie. Like he said, it still "depends on what you know." Seriously.

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