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Dan Cray Trio: Over Here Over Heard (2008)

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Dan Cray Trio: Over Here Over Heard How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Often, when a trio plays jazz, it covers classics or performs original material written by the leader—usually the pianist. On Over Here Over Heard, the Dan Cray Trio does both and pleases a live audience in the process.

The trio brings some varied credentials. Cray was a finalist in the 2003 Montreux Jazz Festival Solo Piano Competition. His associations have included Kurt Elling and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, and he has released three studio albums with his trio, the previous being Save Us (Bluejazz, 2005). Clark Sommers is a bassist who has performed at jazz festivals in the United States, Ireland, France and Canada. He's performed with Elling and Kevin Mahogany, and shared billing with Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, B.B. King, The Staples Singers, Koko Taylor and Buddy Guy. Greg Wyser-Pratte started on piano and played trumpet for nine years before turning to drums. He graduated Northwestern University in 1998 with a bachelor of music degree in jazz studies. As a student or professional, he has worked with Max Roach, Rufus Reid and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, among others.

The Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer classic, "That Old Black Magic," is given a fresh, invigorating treatment. Cray carries the lead throughout, but Sommers and Wyser-Pratte engage proudly. The drummer really comes through during the song's climactic conclusion.

Cray does more than justice to Horace Silver's "Barbara." This upbeat selection is one of the more enjoyable pieces on a recording that's loaded with them. Cray's piano is exceptional, while Wyser-Pratte's mix on the toms, snare and cymbals adds a nice complement. Already engaging, the song comes to a high-energy conclusion.

If there's one disappointment on the disc, its that the bass doesn't come through clearly at low volume. The acoustic bass can get lost in the background any recording by large ensemble, especially with a horn section. However, in a trio, it should be more clearly audible without having to raise the volume, boosting the subwoofer or employing equalization.

Still, Over Here Over Heard is an enjoyable collection of seven tracks. All run more than six and a half minutes, giving the musicians plenty of room to operate.

Track Listing: That Old Black Magic; At Least; Useless Landscape; Barbara; More Than You Know; Hammer Head; Moon River.

Personnel: Dan Cray: piano; Clark Sommers: bass; Greg Wyser-Pratte: drums.

Record Label: Crawdad Productions

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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