Kenny Barron / Dave Holland Trio Featuring Jonathan Blake
No deception here whatsoever – it’s there in the title/s – three players absolutely giving their all making this a fantastic recording. Both Barron (piano) and Holland (bass) are masters of their respective crafts, both great band leaders too and living legends; guys that have worked with the greats – including many sadly now no longer with us. They’ve also been responsible for bringing up some of the new school, including Jonathan Blake (a regular drummer for Barron). It’s fair to have his name singled out as the feature-star; he really does feature here across several open solos and as the pace-setting, over gliding bossas, post-bop and beaut balladry. He’s a master musician with a feather-lite touch when needed and the big bad boom-bap as well.
Barron and Holland have worked together and both lead their own small combos so here they extend on a previous duo record to have this as the shared-name trio.
The real treat though here is just the sublime ensemble playing – this is never a bassist doing a solo on his own or with the piano and drums in supporting roles; nor is it Barron setting the melody in place to be accompanied by dutiful rhythm playing. I mean, sure, of course, there is that – by virtue of his being the main melodic instrument and Blake and Holland being brilliant workers but what I’m trying to say is that on long passages of instrumental colour (Until Then) you’ll hear – and important feel – all three musicians.
That’s actually the case throughout. Barron’s seesawing bossa-nova, Porto Alegre, has touches of samba to its sway and then into straight bop, it wouldn’t work without all three dancing on the same rug.
The title track is reminiscent of the work the Bill Evans Trio did with Holland in the Scott LaFaro role. Blake certainly has Paul Motian’s wily approach to rhythm keeping; limber and sharp without ever feeling too flashy.
That’s very much what’s on offer here actually – a modern-day retelling of that wondrous trio that made early 60s masterpiece records on the trot like: Portrait in Jazz, Explorations, Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Waltz For Debby.
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