Published Jun 29, 2014If you had to describe the archetype of jazz, a good deal of people would say the piano-led trio. If you wanted to give an example of what a good piano trio is, this would do just fine. Now This is a group led by bassist Gary Peacock (whose association with the Bill Evans Trio informs this group) with support from Joey Baron on drums and the less celebrated but excellent Marc Copland on piano.
Peacock's understated playing and light touch set the tone for similar explorations of quiet rhythms to moderate in the other two. Just because the proceedings never got beyond a certain volume level didn't mean that there was a lack of intensity and experimentation. The players' communication was thorough and non-stop and they fascinated throughout with how, having not worked together as a trio for very long, they would double each others' rhythm ideas and respond to the slightest of gestures simultaneously. Pure and simple, this was experience at work.
Copland had the greatest freedom to roam, but often he was definitely not a leader here, sticking to a few supporting chords or gently flowing (but harmonically interesting) rhythmic notions especially in the upper registers of his instrument. Maybe this tactic was supposed to give more room for Peacock, but the bass master didn't make use of the space; Peacock's tone was so soft that it was hard for him to cut though the mix. Maybe his amp was just too low? Also, though his phrasing was spot on, his intonation seemed to be wonky at certain moments.
No matter — the real star of the show was the endlessly inventive Joey Baron. He provided endless timbral variations with his quiet swing, his friction-based approach to metal on his kit and his ability to dampen and enliven drums by constantly cycling through his assortment of drumsticks. His work produced the loudest cheers of the night. And yet, even mid-solo, he would step out of the zone to make some comment on what the other players were doing. This was a fine example of the types of lessons jazz provides so well: how to listen to other human beings and speak effectively with them.