It would be hard to assemble a trio of more open- and high-minded jazz artists than Andrew Cyrille, Oliver Lake and Reggie Workman. These veterans of the avant-jazz wars, joining forces as Trio 3 on their third album since '97, combine musical excellence and compositional skills with a shared sensibility that's well summed up by the album's title, Open Ideas. Reggie Workman has long been one of the most technically gifted of all bassists, a brilliant player whose versatile style fits into all settings. After Jimmy Garrison took his place in Coltrane’s early bands, Workman became a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (1962-1964) and was in the groups of Yusef Lateef (1964-65) and Herbie Mann (1964-1966). He recorded frequently in the '60s (including many Blue Note dates and Archie Shepp's classic Four for Trane ).
There’s a staggering amount of knowledge and history on display here. Bassist Workman's "Y2 Chaos," for example, is an intricate, twisting blues in the tradition of Thelonious Monk, with whom Workman briefly played in the late '60s; while his "Prophet's Path," with its plaintive, spiritual overtones, recalls his work with Coltrane. Cyrille, arguably the leading free-jazz drummer on the scene, shows another side of his personality with "Casino," a clever meditation on gambling with a hip spoken vocal reminiscent of beat poetry. Lake, the World Saxophone Quartet mainstay, contributes a pair of complex, somewhat serpentine compositions and plenty of explosive alto sax improvisation. While the trio's roots stretch back to the free-jazz movement of the '60s (Cyrille spent years as Cecil Taylor’s drummer) and none of its members has ever shied away from tackling difficult music, this set makes for highly accessible, though challenging, listening. Not just for avant-gardists, Open Ideas is recommended for all those with open ears.