Friday, June 10, 2011

Trio Takes (Part 1)

Yes, I know I could a review a recording every day and never cover 1/2 the piano trio CDs released in a given year.  Many I listen to once and find them hard to return to; if you're lucky, you receive a recording as involving and interesting as "The One Constant", the debut CD by the Danny Fox Trio (Songlines).  Pianist/composer Fox, bassist Chris van Voorst van Beest and drummer Max Goldman easily mix stylistic influences (there's a bit of The Bad Plus approach on certain tunes) but what catches the ear is the melodic content of this music.  There are pieces like "Sadbeard", a ballad that starts as a meditation with tolling piano chords and then changes pace into an intense 3-way conversation before returning to its minimal beginning.  The short but lovely "Even Tempered", with its classical piano line (the influence of Beethoven) and splendid arco (bowed) bass stands out with how the band never loses its focus and the song always moves forward.  There are moments on "Drama King" that have its roots in progressive rock yet the quirky, martial, beat under the piano solo takes the song in an unexpected direction.  The program is filled with moments like that, places in the songs that don't conform to any formula but the creative ideas of the trio. Hence the long "funk" section of "The Icebox" and the sweet high-hat inventions that Goldman adds under the short, playful, piano phrases - this is music that feels "live" and "alive", music that has enough "give" so that it can be fresh when played on a stage or in a club. 

The title track closes the program, its structure and piano line referring back to "Even Tempered."  But the mood is darker until Goldman kicks "up" the beat for several minutes. Then the trio literally takes the song out on a 2 minute fade without truly resolving the melody, leaving the door open for future adventures.

Danny Fox,  a Harvard graduate with a degree in Psychology, has become a busy musician, playing in Here Be Dragons with saxophonists Jon Irabagon and Andrew Neff, a 7-year gig with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and manning the piano chair in drummer Max Weinberg's Big Band. The music he creates for his Trio is neither cluttered nor static but open and satisfying while still being challenging and very entertaining.  On further listening, one notices how impressive the group's interactions are, how fine a bassist van Voorst van Beest is and the musicality of Goldman.  So, don't wait - go listen.  For more information and to hear plus see the Trio play, go to

Click below to download a track from "The One Constant", courtesy of Songlines and IODA Promonet.

Trudge (mp3)

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