Scott Colley (bass), Edward Simon (piano/keys) and Brian Blade (drums) are all master musicians and on their self-titled debut as Steel House they make a set of lithe, loping, languid jazz noises that s are alternately buoyed by Colley’s bass, gliding along under Simon’s strident piano glissandos or pulled into place by the colourful stamp of Blade’s bright, percussive ideas – and sometimes this happens, by turn, all within the same tune (Kingpin).
There are moments when Colley takes a big stroll on his own, places where Blade’s feather-light touch just sits in under or when Simon strides along setting the tone and pace. And it’s all elegant and has a sort of garden-lawn funk to it – summer suppin’, kicking back with a beer; virtuoso playing that can appeal to the layperson too.
There are delicate, playful pieces (87.5% of You) where the drums start to open up midway through the tune after starting out brittle and conscientious – and classic bass-driven balladry (Way of No Return).
It’s a type of future-bop-for-right-now, the pace is – for the most part – relaxed, low-key – and there are pieces like Country where I think of a piano-jazz version of some of Bill Frisell’s work.
But the pace and feel builds from slow-burn to total fire on Lover’s Park, Blade rolling and tumbling in the background like Elvin Jones as Simon switches between piano and synths to evoke something of a lost collaboration between Brad Mehldau and Jan. Hammer.
The album is not brand new. It’s been out close to a year. But I’m super glad I found my way to it.