John Stetch Trio: Bruxin' (2006)
With this collection of eleven originals, Canadian-born pianist John Stetch enhances his reputation as an innovative performer and composer. Stetch's work is paradoxical: it's simultaneously complex and accessible, earnest and playful; full of quirky rhythms and harmonies, it's still rooted in classic swing. Bassist Sean Smith and drummer Rodney Green are essential to the whirling, welcoming energy of Bruxin', providing the ideal scaffolding for Stetch's compositions.
Stetch derives his inspiration from a wide range of influencesfrom the Inuit tribe's use of consonants to Coltrane, circuses, and his familyand uses his formidable technique to deliver a consistently engaging program. (The title is a hip reference to subconscious tooth-grinding, as well as a nod to his dentist father, who first introduced him to jazz.)
Never a fan of the expected, Stetch's love song to his wife Susan ("The Girl in the Hemp Shirt") is anything but sticky-sweet, as such hymns usually are. While the mood is peaceful, there are shadows and angles and hints of mystery. In fact, each track has its own surprises, whether key centers that keep shifting ("Green Grove"), quirky lines and breaks ("Snark"), a delightfully odd, percussive coda ("Chord-Free Gord"), or the adventurous, inventive glee that pervades the entire session.
Bruxin' is hardly your ordinary trio excursion, but happily it avoids the sandtrap of avant-garde confusion and the dead-end walls of boredom. Melodic, propulsive and swinging, with flashes of humor and real brilliance, this is a fresh and intriguing ride.
Track Listing: Inuit Talk; Bruxin'; Circus; Green Grove; The Girl in the Hemp Shirt; Chord-Free Gord; How Far is Callisto?; The Prairie Unfolds; Snark; Heavens of a Hundred Days; Rectangle Man.
Personnel: John Stetch: piano; Sean Smith: bass; Rodney Green: drums.