Mara Rosenbloom Trio
Fresh Sound New Talent
I think the thing I love most about the piano trio format is that it’s always different and always the same. I know that’s been attributed to the music of The Fall – and to a few others no doubt, most of them far removed from jazz too. But the jazz trio with piano at the centre is always grounded in that instrument being the main melodic voice; but it’s also a foundation of the jazz rhythm section – unlike a horn-led, piano-less trio say. And yet, the amount of variety we get from these same three instruments in the standard setting is, well, often close to overwhelming. There’s lyrical balladry, muscular groove workouts and hypnotic “third music” moments where the drift between classical and jazz is explored.
In fact those three types of music are all on display here in the opening moments of the brand new album by Mara Rosenbloom (piano) and the trio she leads with Chad Taylor (drums) and Sean Conly.
Opening track, Origin – Intro on a Theme by Amina Claudine Myers is that muscular type of piano/bass/drums groove and sets up the flow into The Choo which is almost Brubeck-like in the way the piano leads but allows space for the drums and bass to both be fully creative in their supporting roles.
Daydream – An Improvised Transition, is an interesting “rhythmic” ballad, more similar to the minimalist workings of The Necks and Dawn of Midi (or more recently Punkt.Vrt.Plastik) and then we get the nocturnal scrapings of Caravan / Connie’s Groove; dark washes of piano with cymbal scrapes and big bows from the bass. So lush sound worlds are being created from the get go and Caravan is turned on its ear and presented here as basically an instrumental torch ballad. Dark and dramatic.
The album just moves through those various modes from there – brilliant band interplay on Uncertain Bird, a beautiful piano lead for The Ballad for Carolyn Trousers (Carol in Trousers) where you might almost imagine enough space for a singer to add a lyric. Ricki Lee Jones in jazz mode perhaps. Or add strings and you’re in the place Joni Mitchell occupied around 20 years ago when she recast her own songs as new standards.
Some barrelhouse blues arrives too with Ramblin’ On Her Mind (With Gratitude to Lightnin’ Hopkins). Taylor offering a Herlin Riley-inspired bit of New Orleans swagger within a determined jazz pulse and Conly just nodding down the line keeping things straight but never too narrow.
Gospel balladry arrives with Have Mercy Upon us and then there’s a reprise of Caravan – more recognisable, almost Coltrane-esque (that’s Alice Coltrane by the way).
Respiration has bits and pieces of (and inspired by) everything. The playing is wonderful. The mood is always right. This is a classy modern jazz set from some brilliant musicians.