Gordon Grdina / Gary Peacock / Paul Motian: Think Like The Waves (2006)
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We should always be grateful for music that's greater than the sum of its parts, and here's a case in point: a guitar trio that covers a whole lot of ground in celebrating the timeless virtues of subtle, intuitive interplayand celebrates the eternal joy of conclusively making its point without raising its collective voice.
Of the three musicians here, Paul Motian, who might the most readily associated with a subtle, sly approach to the maintenance of a musical pulse, is perhaps growing more idiosyncratic with age; this takes nothing away from the fact that he is the ideal drummer for this group, especially when Gordon Grdina and Gary Peacock cover so much ground.
Although Grdina's guitar tone is right in keeping with what might be called the jazz guitar tradition, his approach to playing is not. His harmonic sense is nearly always implied, rather than emphatically stated; and his playing of the oud amounts to radical timbral variation, not least because his phrasing on the instrument seems to be fundamentally different. The overall effect of his work is intriguing, and the thought of him working as a free improviser provokes much figurative chin stroking.
"100 Years" is probably the piece that definitively nails what this trio is all about, and the fact that the listener has to pay close attention to grasp the full extent of what's going on is no bad thing.
In the liner notes Grdina refers to the fact that he has been studying with Peacock, and this is one of the happy occasions when the work has revealed positive results, not least because Grdina has clearly developed a deep understanding of his cohort's work. This manifests itself in the refined yet earthbound work on offer here, particularly on the likes of "Yellow Spot Into The Sun" and the aptly named "Combustion," where the trio's low flame paradoxically burns intently.
Track Listing: Yellow Spot Into The Sun; Different Places; Platform; Renunciation; Morning Moon; Ginger Root; 100 Years; Distant; Combustion; Think Like The Waves; Cobble Hill; Albert The Monk; String Quartet #6; Strathcona.
Personnel: Gordon Grdina: guitar, oud; Gary Peacock: bass; Paul Motian: drums.