Monday, October 31, 2011

The Nice Guy Trio, Sidewalks and Alleys/Waking Music

The Nice Guy Trio may well be populated by nice guys. I don't know them personally. But I do know that the Nice Guy Trio makes nice music. Trumpeter Darren Johnston founded the Nice Guy Trio in 2008 with Bob Reich on accordion and Daniel Fabricant on bass. On what I believe is their second album, Sidewalks and Alleys/Waking Music (PFR Porto Franco 032), the trio plays two suite-like compositions: Reich's "Sidewalks and Alleys" and Johnston's "Waking Music" (which of course explains the title of the CD). They are joined by a string quartet in a very appealing set of music. Sometimes I am reminded of the Turtle Island String Quartet in how the music lays out. Not surprising given that Mark Summer is the cellist here, who is member of that quartet. But this is the trio's concept, and it plays out for the duration of the album. They have natural affinities with Turtle Island in how they look at musical structure. There are forms, structures that come into play during solos, there are compositional aspects and there are solos per se. The affinities are found in how these elements come to bear on the total matrix of sound.

This might have been called Third Stream Music a few years ago. It combines strong compositional elements with space for solos; the string quartet shapes the overall sound in ways that suggest classical elements. It is a Baltic-Mediterranean-and-beyond flavor that is prominent to varying degrees throughout. Johnston as a trumpet improviser has his very own way and gets space to do that during the course of the two very interesting compositions. But Reich and Fabricant get their spots as well, as do the string players. The three-way interaction, the trio with the quartet and everybody together make for lively music.

This is a trio with an original sound. The string quartet's presence and the "Sidewalks" and "Waking" compositions put them even more into their own league. It's stunning music, very well played and rather ravishing in impact. Yes!


  1. Greg, thanks so much for the review!

  2. Thank-you for the review and kind words Greg! I hope we get to play for you in person some day.
    cheers - darren

  3. Thanks for the appreciation, Darren. I hope so too! Meanwhile I am appreciating the CDs.