Roy Powell Trio: Holus (1999)
For all the talk of improvisation in jazz, it is not widespread to have musicians draw together at a recording studio and just go with the flow. For all the talk of spontaneous virtuosity in jazz, the percentage of musicians who can gather jointly – and pull it off with fallout of note – is likewise somewhat limited. The Norwegian release Holus, featuring the Roy Powell Trio, is an economically intensive – and effective – exercise in freer jazz expressions that remain strangely intelligible through it all.
The plan of action was quite simple, unlike the ensuing musical stabs. These players would just suggest a generalized bearing based on as little as an agreed-upon tempo, tonal consideration or mood. Then their skills and mutual attunement would take over, with a previously agreed desire to make everything played matter. In other words, freedom of conception and performance does not become merely self-gratification in lieu of communicating relevant musicianship, emotion and learning. And they succeed.
Roy Powell plays the piano, shading swing forms in “Da Dee Doo” with scant sayings in abstracted chords, alongside drummer Jarle Vespestad, who can cymbal ambiance in “Hexing Time” or dry beat unfamiliar rhythmic patterns through a performance devoid of swampy time keeping strictures. Terje Gewelt forges free-thinking bassisms that beg study and close listening. Their concept as a trio is highly intelligent and density is paramount beyond levity or unengaged passivity, albeit such compactness – both in the appreciatively disciplined duration of the tunes, as well as the musical vocabulary developed throughout this engaging date – is not intellectualized bulkiness, which often passes as meaning. Yet, this brain cell prickling music doesn’t short-circuit neurons with sameness, lack of wonder or even surprise.
“Saphire” [sic.] is what funky blues becomes at the hands of this trio, for which there’s not much referent other than, it has a somewhat familiar taste to it but its color resembles a jade vine. Wayne Shorter’s “Nefertiti” is made up from unexpected designs and colors and deserves consideration as quite a reinterpretation of this number. “Empty Dwelling” is texturally gifted with uncommon touches and alternatives to instrument manipulation. “Thwack” is a thickly-chorded slap on the side of head, drawing the listener into an album of considerable merit.
All three participants have fine musical credentials of all sorts, abundant technique and expressive capacity, as well as disciplined physicality and emotiveness.
Contact: Roy Powell .
Track Listing: 1. Thwack 2. Holus 3. Organic I 4. Food Gathering 5. Wandering 6. Transform & Include 7. Da Dee Doo 8. Hexing Time 9. Organic II 10. Strophic 11. Nefertiti 12. Alf Takes Elsie To The Seaside 13. Saphire [sic.] 14. Empty Dwelling 15. Funk Expressionism
Personnel: Terje Gewelt-Bass. Roy Powell-Piano. Jarle Vespestad-Drums.
Record Label: Resonant Music
Style: Modern Jazz