Friday, September 17, 2010

Trios Time

Foxy - Jon Irabagon (Hot Cup Records) - Tenor saxophonist Irabagon, who plies his trade with the creative quartet Mostly Other People Do The Killing as well as his own solo projects, has created a CD that begs for a plethora of adjectives.  Though the cover lists 12 tracks (covering over 78 minutes!), "Foxy" is basically one long "hit."  Jazz fans can easily see from the cover a clever homage to Sonny Rollins's "Way Out West" as well as the titles that refer to the Master's "Doxy" and Irabagon throws quotes from "standards" throughout.  Buoyed by the strenuous bass lines of Peter Brendler and propelled by the crashing cymbals and pounding drums of Barry Altschul, Irabagon lets loose with mammoth solo after mammoth solo.  Every once in a while, he'll chill out for a few bars but, most of the time, he's piling riff upon riff. Not for the faint of heart, this "foxy" music.  There are moments when the saxophonist finds a riff and rides its for several choruses while the drummer rumbles and the bass lines ramble.  It's hard to notice because of the incessant barrage of sounds but there are numerous tempo changes and new melody lines introduced.  There are blues riffs, shuffle beats, "walking" bass lines, moments of "free" interchanges, be-bop "jump" lines, and the occasional "softer" sections. 
Exhilarating yet exhausting, "Foxy" begins with the band fading in in full flight and ends abruptly as they are "wailing" away.  The concept and cover art may seem "tongue-in-cheek" but the music is seriously "hot." For more information, go to

Introducing Triveni - Avishai Cohen (Anzic Records) - The first time I heard trumpeter Cohen was also a trio CD, 2003's "The Trumpet Player" on Fresh Sounds New Talent. He had strength in his phrases, a good, clear, tone and his choice of material inspired (5 originals and one tune each by John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman.)
This new CD, featuring long-time cohort Omer Avital (bass) and the inspired work of drummer Nasheet Waits (he's just about everywhere lately, making many different bands sound really good), is light-years ahead of that debut.  Cohen's sound and style has matured; one can hear scores of jazz trumpeters in his smears, in his innate understanding of the blues, and in the creative interaction with his band. Avital is one of the more melodic bassists on the scene and an excellent soloist, with his thick tones and melodic phrases. He stops the show on "Ferrara Napoly", plucking chords and playing chatty blues riffs. He shares the melody line with Cohen on "One Man's Idea" which references Ornette Coleman and bebop - Waits and the trumpeter spar throughout, parsing the melody line and the rhythms. 
The middle of the program features a multi-sectioned rearrangement of Don Cherry's "Art Deco" with a "free" intro, a dollop of bop, a smashing drum solo that moves from a romp into a slow Crescent City march before the piece returns to its free-form opening to close out. "Mood Indigo" commences as a "slow drag", the trumpet muted and bluesy, the bass providing both melodic counterpoint and support while the drums slip and slide but never get sloppy.  Waits opens John Coltrane's "Wise One" with a long yet focussed solo, quite soft yet powerful.  In the next section, the trio play around the changes, a long rubato dance before moving into a loping beat (provided by the bass) building in intensity before Cohen leads the rhythm section to the finish.
The program goes from strength to strength, with the quiet ballad "Amenu" (more muted trumpet, with a nod towards the sound of Miles Davis), a gently swinging take of Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" (melodic trumpet lines, great brushes and bass drum work from Waits and another fine bass solo) and closing with the funky "October 25th."  The interplay of the trumpet and drums on the last track is joyous, playful, and truly exciting.
"Introducing Triveni" was recorded in 10 hours over 2 days in front of an invited audience (one only hears applause at the close of the final cut), with the trio creating enough music to fill a second CD to be released next year.  Make room on your "Best of 2010" list for this excellent recording. 
The CD hits the stores, both physical and digital, on September 28.  For more information, go to

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