Album notes / commentary by Alexander Coleman, accompanying the CD of NYC Trio (Yoshiya Chinen, Guitar; Stuart Grant, Bass; Jose Reyes, Drums) Some people always want to hear about definitions of jazz.Louis Armstrong dismissed any such attempts, saying something like 'Lady, if you have to ask, you'll never know.' Dave Brubeck, a bit more helpful, had a short and happy sentence on the subject-- 'Jazz is a big sponge.' What Brubeck was implying is that jazz is the most receptive genre of popular music imaginable. Fine musicians from all over the world play jazz in an original and arresting fashion, bringing with them bits and pieces of their own musical culture, and enriching thereby the whole of what they are doing on the stand. What's more, jazz comes in all sorts of combinations--there aren't any rules. Jazz trios are a good example of the flexibility inherent in any jazz grouping--we think of Benny Goodman's first small group as a pioneer (clarinet, piano, drums,), but then the King Cole Trio (piano, bass, guitar) became famous both for it's delicacy and it's drive. And later, the Red Norvo Trio (vibraphone, guitar, bass) brought yet another perspective, what with the then young virtuoso (and pencil-thin) Charles Mingus, as did the Ahmad Jamal Trio (piano, bass, drums) in another way entirely. Oscar Peterson started with piano, bass and guitar, then later substituted drums for guitar. You could go on and on. There is one constant, however, in any successful jazz trio.There has to be close interaction between all three, they all have to bekeen listeners and musical interactors and collaborators with one another. This first recording by the NYC Trio is a wonderful example of constant attentive hearing and playing off each other. And as Brubeck implied, this music can and does come from anywhere. Guitarist Yoshiya Chinen was born in Japan in l967, came to NewYork City when he was 22 years old, with both rock guitar and modern jazzguitar as part of his ongoing models. Just as it should be-- in him, onehears both sides in a new fusion--an original combination of echoes ofHendrix, Clapton, Jerry Garcia along with Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass. Bassist Stuart Grant, born in New York City in l955, has been part of the New York jazz scene since the early 70's, having studied with Ron Carter and Steve Swallow, after a first initiation into the mysteries of the bowed bass with studies with the formidable Orin O' Brian of the New York Philharmonic. Drummer Jose Reyes, born in Spain in 1958, first studiedclassical percussion at the Royal Conservatory in Madrid, played a lot ofjazz in Madrid and elsewherein the 80's, and recently has come back to thedrums in the past three years, gigging with a whole raft of differentmusicians here in the city. The music hear here comes from both great examples of past popular music, a few numbers from the bop era, and originals by guitarist Chinen and bassist Grant. Again, there is considerable originality in the choice of the oldies--'I'm getting sentimental over you,' Tommy Dorsey's trademark theme of so many years ago, here given an airy, affectionate treatment. The same for Frank Loesser's 'I've never been in love before' from the musical 'Guys and Dolls,' sung in the Hollywood film version by none other than Marlon Brando (!). Walter Gross's 'Tenderly,' first made into a hit by Sarah Vaughan on an early Columbia disc, is here given new pulse and vitality by the trio. 'Spring is Here,' one of Rodgers and Hart's most bereft and lonely tunes, ('Spring is here / Why doesn't my heart go dancing?') comes from the l938 musical 'I Married an Angel.' And finally, 'You stepped out of a dream,' with it's memorable chromatic half-step up right at the beginning, comes from the l940 film 'Ziegfield Girl,' as sung there by Tony Martin, and was revived by Stan Getz when he was barely out of his teens. The trio gives it an untraditional bossa nova treatment, which works out just right. 'Tricotism,' by Oscar Pettiford, the bassist much admired by Duke Ellington, was an oft-repeated tune in the 50's and 60's as played by Oscar's small quartet at the Downbeat Club (featuring the master on plucked 'cello) and featuring Zoot Sims on tenor. Here, bassist Grant gives it a rumbling, solid workout which effortlessly recall's Oscar's big sound. And in the same evocative way, the trio's treatment of Monk's 'Let's call this' evokes the quirky genius of Thelonious's wayward and original style. And finally, and not at all the least of the trio's offerings, the originals--Stuart Grant's exploration of 5/4 time, 'Curiosity,' with the propulsive chording of guitarist Chinen and the solid interjections by drummer Reyes, who also distinguishes himself on Chinen's 'Coincidence' and 'May Song.' All in all, this is an important moment for this group only recently working together--they are contemplative, subtle and ever-changing in their textures, but at the same time they have a collective push and surge which makes both ballads and mid-tempos intriguing and fascinating to hear. Quite a debut.
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