Friday, October 29, 2010

Jacob Melchior Carries the Torch on "It's About Time"

You know something hip is up from the opening of the first track, where drummer Jacob Melchior plays the head melody of Johnny Hodges' "Squatty Roo" on the traps to a walking bass underpinning. And It's About Time (Self Released C2010) turns out to live up to that promising beginning. It's a straight-ahead date with a piano trio that integrates the three contributors and at the same time creates interesting group arrangements that accentuate the rhythmic and melodic-chordal aspects for a kind of little-big-band sound. In that they are like the classic Oscar Peterson, Red Garland, Bill Evans and Ahmad Jamal trios.

This trio is Tadataka Unno at the piano, Hassan JJ Shakur on acoustic bass, and of course Mr. Melchior at the drums. Frank Senior jumps in for a gorgeous vocal rendition of "For All We Know."

There is a more or less even split between band originals and standards in the widest sense of the term (like with a samba version of Stevie Wonder's "Bird of Beauty," which goes quite well). The trio has been together for a while and it shows in the tight-loose approach. It's a showcase for the subtle yet swinging Melchior. But all three players are doing some fine swinging work here. It exudes the sincere commitment to a traditional bop-and-after style of playing that makes such traditionalism enjoyable and moving. This is the music they want to be doing and it's clear they live it every day.

It might be easy to miss this one. If you love the piano trio thing you might want to make a point of hearing "It's About Time." It is an excellent example of how, with the right players, the older style is far from dead. It is vitally alive in the hands of Melchior's trio.

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