Monday, April 1, 2013

Myriad 3, Tell

Myriad 3 is a jazz piano trio in line with the Bad Plus sort of configuration of "progressive" acoustic piano trios. That is, they move away from hard bop or Evans-Jarrett harmonic-linear style camps in favor of a kind of post-Brubeck, complexly compositional stance.

Chris Donnelly is at the piano, Dan Fortin on acoustic bass, and Ernesto Cervini is on drums. They work very much together to get a sometimes elaborately arranged three-way sound.

On their recent CD Tell (Alma 13112) the Toronto-based trio comes at us with a well-wrought set of originals. The only cover involves a very different approach to the classic "C-Jam Blues"--with a madly shifting series of tempos and breaks.

It's all about the threesome in tandem, not as much about piano virtuosity with accompaniment (with a few exceptions)--and so the music tends to avoid a standard head-solos-head routining in favor of a through-composed, through-arranged approach. And so the compositions take on added weight, a more exclusively central importance to the listening experience.

Donnelly hits the block chord and rhythmically charged figurations route in his improvisations more than the long bop-hornline approach. Fortin plays motifs and reinforces melody-harmony in a coordinated rhythmic tandem of piano and bass more than he walks. His solo spots are nicely proportioned too. And Cervini has multiple hits, fills and rocked syncopations to execute in addition to timekeeping functions. In that way he resembles more a big-band drummer than a typical loose small-ensemble player. It works and as a result he is a key to the trio's success.

For all that to come through the pieces must be very good, of course. And thankfully they are. And of course all three players must be independent voices that can carry their part of the musical burden with conviction and musicality. And thankfully they do.

It's music that has a newness to it and is less inclined to show roots than much mainstream jazz today. And so what is wrong with that? The past does not disappear if we don't continually reference it. It still is there to appreciate and enjoy. Meanwhile Myriad 3 is about part of the goings on today, 2013 and beyond. It's a great example of one tendency in a very impressive CD program.

Take a listen for something different.

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