James Dower and his cohorts have put out a fine modern piano trio album. Featuring six originals and two standards they assault the play list with a combination of aggression and sensitivity that works. Clearly it is their intent show listeners that they are wizards at what they do and manage to be convincing. There's a bit of everything regarding the contemporary approach to the piano trio on this CD. Dower's piano takes the lead on "Night and Day" as he quotes a few bars from the opening theme for the old Lone Ranger Show. This track also provides the vehicle for some very inventive improvisation with all members contributing equally - Dower's clean stroked piano, Steve Skop's attention getting bass and Mark Mahoney playing melodies with the skins. Dower's piano takes on an inquiring mode on "In the Next Life" as he shatters rhythmically with Skop's bass which stays pretty much at the low end of the scale laying a very solid bottom for the proceedings. One of the finer moments from this session is the lovely, lilting Mahoney-composed "In the Next Life". Here Skop shows that he is in full control of the upright bass by shifting his focus to the higher end of the scale as he and Dower engage in some give and take during this dream like serenade.
>P>This trio is one of many fine jazz groups working out of the Boston area. Dower is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and has become very active with his trio as well as being part of the band The Search Party. Originally from New York, bassist Steve Skop also teaches as well as performs professionally. Not content to limit his performing to jazz combos, drummer Mark Mahoney has also performed and recorded with various groups including big bands, rock, funk and R&B and Avant-Garde Jazz groups.
Dower's playing reveals a wide variety of influences including Bud Powell, Mal Waldron and Bob James. He has taken these influences and melded them into his own pianistic expression which is eloquent to say the least. This is a good maiden album and is recommended. Dower's home page is at www.jamesdower.com.