This drummer-led piano trio comes full circle on a strong program of tunes from a diverse band of composers, plus an original from the leader. The playing is compact, giving rein to improvisation that stays in the mood while adding enough tonality to render the proceedings interesting. Reuben Hoch pegs the rhythm into the groove, and when the time comes, he elevates it to ferment the mood. Pianist Don Friedman shapes and kindles the melody, presaging an agile mind that turns into unseen corners with a nice little twist. Ed Schuller has always been one for whom the bass is an eloquent voice, vibrant and resonant in its myriad hues.
About midway through, there's an interesting "Turnaround where the three engage in a conversation that darts between them. While Friedman supplies the main voice, Hoch's varied punctuation moves from emphatic accents to a flex of the cymbals, addding spice; Schuller's walking bass line completes the lure. Friedman brings back "Flamands, which he recorded on Waltz for Debby (441 Records, 2003). It works pleasantly enough, the tempo set by Hoch and Schuller, but then in comes Friedman, dwelling on the melody before he adds muscle and pumps it with potent vigor. There's a swinging line invested in "Beatrice, where the three work comfortably together, which makes this mainstream take a delight.
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Personnel: Reuben Hoch: drums; Don Friedman: piano; Ed Schuller: bass.