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Jonathan Gee: Dragonfly (2012)

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Jonathan Gee: Dragonfly How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

50 years ago, modern jazz piano trios would barely be recognizable to the majority of their counterparts—except perhaps Bill Evans
Bill Evans
Bill Evans
1929 - 1980
piano
' trio. Today, cutting-edge jazz trios require interaction between players and expect both drummer and bassist to be more than just disciples. Trio leaders such as Jason Moran
Jason Moran
Jason Moran
b.1975
piano
, John Escreet
John Escreet
John Escreet
b.1984
piano
, Matthew Shipp
Matthew Shipp
Matthew Shipp
b.1960
piano
all write and perform their music as a three-way conversation. Add to that list, London-based pianist Jonathan Gee.

Gee, a contributor to the UK scene with vibraphonist Orphy Robinson, saxophonist Steve Williamson, singer Claire Martin
Claire Martin
Claire Martin
b.1967
vocalist
, and his European trio, finds himself in good company in New York with bassist Joseph Lepore (Greg Osby
Greg Osby
Greg Osby
b.1960
saxophone
) and drummer Nasheet Waits (pianists Moran and Orrin Evans
Orrin Evans
Orrin Evans
b.1975
piano
, trumpeter Dave Douglas
Dave Douglas
Dave Douglas
b.1963
trumpet
). Dragonfly is comprised of seven originals and one Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
tune.

The disc opens with the propulsive "Beyond." Gee's piano runs, chest-bumping against the zealous vigor of Waits attack. This heady music clears the sinuses and opens up the lungs. If it weren't for the amazing communication between players, songs like "Black Ball" would seemed prejudiced and rocky. But, with Lepore's pulse, and he isn't in the business of keeping time, the maelstrom is contained and Gee's message is coherent. In fact, it swings very, very hard.

Like Moran, Gee composes with a sense of both jazz canon and contemporary sounds. He can lift a sweet melody such as "Tortadilla" and transition from a hummed blues melody into bits and pieces of acrobatics. Often, Gee's sleight-of-hand involves the blues. He negotiates a modern sounding "Cream Of Mandarins" with a fleeting passage of blues and two-handed attack, all the while with Waits in full agitation mode. The cross-roads meeting with Lepore is all to service the tune.

The summation of this trio is in Monk's "We See." Gee negotiates the track as if he is taking shorthand—hopping, skipping and jumping as he accelerates across the melody. It's modern, it's Monk, and it's a three-way conversation.

Track Listing: Track #1; Track #2; Track #3. Beyond; Dragonfly; Black Ball; Tortadilla; Cream Of Mandarins; Yellow Ball; We See; Cicada.

Personnel: Jonathan Gee: piano; Joseph Lepore: double bass; Nasheet Wait: drums.

Record Label: ASC Records


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