This latest release comes from saxophonist Rich Halley's working trio. The term "working trio" denotes several things in jazz. First, it literally designates Halley, bassist Clyde Reed, and drummer Dave Storrs as a band you might catch live in their native Northwest. Second, it implies that the members of this trio share a common approach and musical language. Third, it suggests this will be a quality recording.
That designation is correct on all three counts.
Just like on its previous discs, Objects (2002), Coyotes In The City (2001), and The Blue Rims (2003, with Bobby Bradford), the band approaches modern music with a an openness to time and timing. Take "The Rub, with its Latin opening and odd-timed fizzled funk ending. In between, the trio plays with differing time measures, slowing the affair and swirling the mind. Is this tune ever played the same way twice? Probably not, but you get a sense that the members of the trio are comfortable finishing each other's sentences.
You can focus your attention on any of the three players and enjoy this disc. Reed's walking bass on the opening track and his repetition on "Long Valley are intoxicating. Likewise, Storrs can be a minimalist drummer (as on "Three Way Shapes ) or quite the expansive player. His hand drumming, whistling, and sometimes singing fill the moment like Charles Mingus' comment.
Unlike Halley's other discs, Mountains and Plains adds a bit more space to the tracks. His saxophone, in the post-Coltrane lineage, is full and quite fertile. He even takes up a Lacy-like soprano on "Before Dawn, probing alleys and backstreets with frequent pauses while his partners check other passageways.
Give Rich Halley's new trio recording an ovation for its hard work. Well done.
Personnel: Rich Halley: tenor and soprano saxophones, percussion; Clyde Reed: bass;
Dave Storrs: drums, pecussion, vocals.