Neil Cowley Trio: Radio Silence (2011)
With this British trio's third albumand perhaps its finest hour to datea heartwarming assault on the customary jazz piano trio format surges onward. Here, pianist Neil Cowley merges rock, pop sentiment and mainstream jazz into a stylistic enterprise, aided by a highly rhythmic undercurrent. Cowley injects a sense of antiquity into the program, via his slightly rustic sounding piano, shaded with a honky-tonk, full-bodied tone. It's an uncanny dimension that casts an earthy keynote into the grand schema, while enhancing the more ethereal spots and cross-theme intersections.
With cascading block chords and memorable choruses, the pianist ventures into a lush, romantic domain with a twist or two on "Vice Skating." The band's youthful presence and cunning designs invert standard piano trio fare with off-kilter detours, false endings and pulsating unison lines that pose alternating viewpoints.
Cowley's rolling chord clusters and the trio's pumping rock beats add oomph to a lush melody, but it's an arrangement that translucently fuses positive sensibilities with pure power, fluency and tender notes, as a series of odd-metered pauses and regenerations of the primary theme help spawn a tension-and-release environment.
"Vice Skating" is a remarkably coherent composition that offers a comprehensive glimpse into the trio's novel convictions. Paralleling the likes of The Bad Plus and Medeski, Martin & Wood, the Neil Cowley Trio works within a mode that harmoniously turns the tide on convention. .
Personnel: Neil Cowley: piano; Richard Sadler: bass; Evan Johnson: drums.