From the North Atlantic side of the Jazz world comes the Paul Harrison trio, a piano trio that ought to make itself known outside its native Scotland with this fine first release.
Coming on the heels of being named Scotland's Young Jazz Musician of the Year, pianist Harrison won the rights to a recording contract with England's Caber records, and here shows he does not take it at all for granted- delivering a fresh program of fine, nine originals that cover a diverse area of stylistic concerns.
Opening this set is "Six Down" a Bud Powell-type melody that is executed here with verve and which is fully in line with the bop tradition but has a few added wrinkles. "Song Ballad" is a nice simple ballad played in a museful, rubato fashion not unlike the Keith Jarrett trio would. Whereas, "Rhythm's Changing" is a modal vehicle in which Harrison demonstrates that he is fully cognizant of that part of the jazz piano tradition; the trio sounds in particularly fine form on this track, and Harrison puts his ample chops on display. It's a short but fun ride of a track, and the "Rhythm's Changing" moniker holds true as the trio slows down, incrementally, when headed into the top of the form.
There is a nod to French impressionist composers such as Debussy and Ravel with the ballad form "Valse." This is a very moody and well- sublime rendering of such a composition. It could be at home as soundtrack music for some noir film, but then one realizes there is too much stimulating improvisation to merely allow this to fade into the background. Kudos to bassist Mario Caribe for his "twangy" solo here; it is clever.
The title track, as the title may betray, is a fleet and tense modal track. The tune itself is highly reminiscent of the Chick Corea "Now he Sings" sound and the fast angular melody (not unlike "Matrix") gives way to no-nonsense modal musings from there on out. That said, Harrison shows a creativity with this format on this track and "Rhythm's Changing" that is welcome when many players doing the "modal" thing fail to inject a sense that they are not merely on modal "autopilot", flashing much chops but humorless and lacking in an air of spontaneity.
Consider adding this piano trio cd to your collection of fine jazz piano trio cds. While Paul Harrison is an unknown commodity, and Scotland is as yet jazz-wise, there is excellent musicianship demonstrated here and there is no hint at all that these Scots don't know to play jazz. Indeed, they have conquered that "Nemesis" with this disc alone in this writer's mind. It should also be added that the sound quality on this disc is excellent, worthy of audiophile interest, although there is one track in which the bass seems to be squeaking on the floor. Attribute that to very sensitive microphones I suppose. All in all, though fine sound for fine music.
Note: cd available from Caber Music www.cabermusic.com
Personnel: Paul Harrison: Piano, Mario Lima Caribe: Bass, Paddy Flaherty: Drums.