Dan DeChellis Trio: My Age of Anxiety (2012)
If anything in jazz approaches the status of a commodity, it would be the piano trio. The inevitable comparisons run the gamut from Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett to Cecil Taylor and, more often than not, those benchmarks are either unattainable or unsustainable. A more accessible measure may be in the ability to differentiate one group's unique contribution from the plethora of similarly structured groups. The Dan DeChellis Trio meets that distinction with its debut, My Age of Anxietybut here, too, the comparisons are hard to ignore.
While DeChellis does cite Evans as an influence, he also credits Brian Eno and King Crimson as having an impact on his music and he leads a dual existence in more than one rock band. His exploratory nature is obvious in the opening title tracka temperate yet dynamic interplay of dark and lighter shades of emotion. "Dr. Kindt" incorporates DeChellis' affinity for classical music, another genre in which he has composed, taught and played. This particular piece eventually takes a alternative route into a style reminiscent of Jarrett's gospel-tinged Koln Concert (ECM, 1975). "After Much Deliberation" returns to a more serene state, though its complexity reflects the tension of options being weighed and considered. European-inspired minimalism, reminiscent of the Sebastian Liedke Trio, anchors "13 Holes" and adds another subtle dimension to the mix of material.
While the content of My Age of Anxiety is deeply personal, there is nothing cryptic about the compositions' titles. "Skirt Skate" is more up-tempo than much of the material in the collection. With an animated rumba-like undercurrent it nevertheless transitions perfectly into the very calm "Piece of Peace." "Path" begins along those same tranquil lines but later takes off, before coming full circle. "Suspended in Time" returns the collection to a more moderate boogie tempo, where DeChellis excels at demonstrating his ability to work quite lyrically within complex textures. "The Bottom" has the feeling of floating up through the atmosphere and it closes the collection on a cautiously optimistic note.
DeChellis is capable of being the force in a room, or a more ethereal presence. He improvises but does so within a sequence of themes, working with the structure but not over-thinking the direction of the music. The appeal of My Age of Anxiety grows with repeated listening; there is a quiet power in DeChellis' journey. The music has an open and, at times, free feeling that invites translation. My Age of Anxiety is an effectual and moving collection that deserves to bring wider recognition to this accomplished artist.
Track Listing: My Age of Anxiety; Dr. Kindt; After Much Deliberation; 13 Holes; SkirtSkate; A Piece of Peace; Path; The Façade; A Search for More; Suspended in Time; Change is Good; A Time of Sighs (for Paul Motian); A Sarcastic Welcome; The Bottom.
Personnel: Dan DeChellis: piano; Mitch Shelly: bass; Zach Martin: drums.
Record Label: Self Produced
Style: Modern Jazz