Steve Grover Trio: Breath (2003)
Drummer Steve Grover may or may not be a practicing Buddhist, but he plays drums with a lightness and clarity that my friends doing daily Buddhist meditation might well envy. The title cut on this engaging album is a strikingly original Grover composition where the trio members sound like they are breathing together with a kind of musical and spiritual unity rarely heard in studios or concert stages. Pianist Frank Carlberg, while sounding influenced at times by Keith Jarrett or Mike Nock, contributes a heady impressionism to Grover's nine original open-ended tunes, and bassist Chris Van Voorst Van Beest is as nimble and musically adroit a player as one could wish for in this setting.
The meditational image that came to mind when I first heard this album – and that impression lingers – has much to do with the extraordinary delicacy with which Grover plays. He gives a great deal of solo space to Carlberg throughout the album, but every Grover solo is developed with a crystaline logic that never seems to spotlight his ego as much as the music's necessary flow. The nine compositions tend to flow into one another, with a cameo on the final tune by talented tenor saxophonist Andrew Rathbun a crowning touch.
Track Listing: 1. Underdog, 2. The Apprentice, 3. Breath, 4. Balance, 5. Metaphor, 6. Holiday, 7. Intrinsic, 8. Spherical, 9. Portrait #4
Personnel: Steve Grover, Frank Carlberg, Chris Van Voorst Van Beest, with Andrew Rathbun or "Portrait #4."