Jeff Denson, Romain Pilon and Brian Blade
Between Two Worlds
The prolific bassist and composer Jeff Denson – just a few months after releasing his first live album (which also showcases his incredible singing voice) – is at again here with a new trio. The story goes: French guitarist Romain Pilon and Denson met some 20 years ago and have collaborated on and off. Brian Blade (drums) and Denson, having been aware of each other for years, no doubt, first collaborated just a couple of years ago, on a job together as part of Joel Harrison’s Spirit House quintet.
Denson then hatched a plan to make a new trio featuring his old music chum and his new musical pal. That’s one reading on the title – but more likely Between Two Worlds speaks to the original material here, an even split between songs authored by Denson and those written by Pilon (the clue, in most cases, is that Pilon’s tunes have French titles).
The result – a sublime meeting of minds between the two worlds and the three musical souls that speak a common language.
Pilon’s fluid guitar lines (Generation) extrapolate on the post-bop world of John Scofield and Pat Metheny as Blade flurries beneath with his trademark whirlwind of rolls and piston-like ride cymbal. All the while Denson is melodic and searching.
There are lovely ballads (En Trois Temps), inventive new blues (Song of A Solitary Crow) and loping swing tunes (Azur).
I’m reminded, most often, of the great trio from the 90s that spawned two worlds too – that of rock and jazz – where Ginger Baker teamed anew with two seasoned collaborators in Charlie Haden and Bill Frisell. Specifically, the interplay has a similar quality and feel to it – real musical conversations.
That wonderful funk-feel of Blade’s gets a work out on Listen Up, Denson’s ability to hold a note and make it count is there on Nostalgic Farewell and Pilon is mellifluous as he probes ever forward (Madrid).
This is a classic meeting of minds, a classy display of gentle virtuosity. There are solos, there are dynamic passages, there is warm, empathic support. There’s never anything too showy or silly or dwarfing of the actual tune.
This is really lovely.
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