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Trio 3 + Jason Moran: Refraction - Breakin' Glass (2013)

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If ever there was a threesome that hankered after being a quartet, it's Trio 3. Though working as a self-contained unit since 1986, pianists have often supplemented the core triumvirate, and in fact one has augmented each of the group's previous three recordings. Now Jason Moran
Jason Moran
Jason Moran
b.1975
piano
fills the piano stool on Refraction—Breakin' Glass, adding to an already heady brew. From bassist Reggie Workman
Reggie Workman
Reggie Workman
b.1937
bass
's youthful stint with John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
, to drummer Andrew Cyrille
Andrew Cyrille
Andrew Cyrille
b.1939
drums
's 11-year tenure with piano iconoclast Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
b.1929
piano
, via saxophonist Oliver Lake
Oliver Lake
Oliver Lake
b.1942
saxophone
's pioneering work as a founder member of the illustrious World Saxophone Quartet
World Saxophone Quartet
World Saxophone Quartet

band/orchestra
, their experience touches on many of the major innovations over the last 50 years. That makes Moran a good match: he studied with three great teachers—Jaki Byard
Jaki Byard
Jaki Byard
1922 - 1999
piano
, Andrew Hill
Andrew Hill
Andrew Hill
1937 - 2007
piano
, and Muhal Richard Abrams
Muhal Richard Abrams
Muhal Richard Abrams
b.1930
piano
—but has found his own critically-acclaimed path, strong on rhythmic ingenuity.

In the summer of 2012, Moran joined the group for a week long residency at NYC's Birdland before going into the studio. That explains the tightness which pervades the ten cuts which constitute the program. It's a collective effort. No-one rests on their laurels. Each contributes tunes, which cover a wide stylistic spectrum, creating a winning mix of free form abstraction, kinetic riffs, and inventive interplay, studded with biting solos. Part of the joy of Trio 3 lies in the way even the relatively straightforward numbers feel on the edge of falling apart in a welter of delicious dissonance and arhythmic clatter, but never quite do. Case in point is Workman's classic "Summit Conference": it opens in a swirling rubato from which the theme emerges out of nowhere, before parting for a series of adventurous features. Likewise on Lake's "All Decks," time expands and contracts, but even when piano and alto saxophone lock, Cyrille combines grace and power in an unfettered commentary.

On the title track, they pull off no mean feat in marrying Moran's ominous lop-sided vamp with Lake's recitation of a wry poem about his mother's drive to make good. Unlike many combinations of jazz and verse, it bears repeated listening, due to the reedman's matter-of-fact delivery and the essential human truth it conveys, not to mention his incisive squealing alto. Other highlights are too many to recount, but include Workman's careening woody bowing on his lilting "Cycle III," Cyrille's throbbing tattoo on "Listen" which sets the scene for a call and response, presaging a procession of supercharged solos, and his propulsive homage to the late saxophonist David S. Ware on the surging "High Priest." After such a successful amalgam, ranking alongside gems like Time Being (Intakt, 2006) and The Berne Concert (Intakt, 2009), it should be no surprise that Trio 3 hooked up with yet another rising star of the keyboard in Vijay Iyer
Vijay Iyer
Vijay Iyer
b.1971
piano
at Birdland in July 2013. There may yet be more collaborative entries to look forward to in the band's discography.

Track Listing: Refraction – Breakin' Glass; Cycle III; Luthers Lament; AM 2 1/2; Summit Conference; All Decks; Listen; Vamp; Foot Under Foot; High Priest.

Personnel: Oliver Lake: alto and sopranino saxophone, voice; Reggie Workman: bass; Andrew Cyrille: drums, voice; Jason Moran: piano.

Record Label: Intakt Records


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