Jim McNeely / Kelly Sill / Joel Spencer: Boneyard (2007)
Then somewhere along the line comes an "aha!" moment, some piano trio outing that stops them cold. For me it was Bill Evans' Sunday at the Village Vanguard (Riverside Records, 1961) with his classic trio alongside bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian. For others it might be Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio, or, to update things a bit, Brad Mehdau's trio.
That's a bit of a wordy introduction, perhaps, to this excellent piano trio set by pianist Jim McNeely, bassist Kelly Sill and drummer Joel Spencer, a modern recording full of vibrant interplay that stays anchored to the tradition. These trio members are all veteran players, with impressive resumes of recorded-with/played with-names: Joe Henderson, Phil Woods, Stan Getz, Renee Rosnes, Clark Terry, Wynton Marsalis, etc.
It all comes together on Boneyard, from the high-octane opener, Kurt Weill's "Speak Low," through an energetic take on Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma," into Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way," with McNeely's cascading intro giving way to the sweet familiar melody, juiced up more than your normally hear it, insistently gregarious, the three musicians locked into a bouncy, lubricated cohesion.
The set is marvelously sequenced, with classic tunes and a couple of originals each from the pens of pianist McNeely and bassist Sills, full of seamless interplay that comes from years of playing together, and some gorgeous Sills bass solos in front of McNeely's sparkling comping, closing with the ever wistful classic "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning."
This superb piano trio outing could just serve as somebody's "aha!" moment.
Track Listing: Speak Low; Con Alma; In Your Own Sweet Way; For Manny; Fe Fi Fo Fum; A Sense of Fairness; Naomi; Ernie Banks; In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.
Personnel: Jim McNeely: piano; Kelly Sill: bass; Joel Spencer: drums.
Record Label: Origin Records