How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
The constant revitalization of the piano trio is one of the most rewarding developments in recent jazz history and it continues apace with Louis Durra's Rocket Science. Durra isn't introducing a major paradigm shift, but with Ryan McGillicuddy
on drums, he's bringing a few fresh new tunes to the party and delivering them with a light, engaging yet imaginative flair.
Rocket Science follows on from The Best Of All Possible Worlds (Self Produced, 2012) and consists, for the most part, of an intriguing mix of covers. Durra avoids the American Songbook classics, concentrating on more contemporary composers whose work is regularly adopted by jazz playersStevie Wonder
cheeriness. Durra's "Nine Eleven," the album's sole original composition, is a lovely tune, performed beautifully by Durra with particularly sympathetic and respectful support from McGillicuddy and Kalaf.
Two of the album's most left-field selections leave the most lasting impressions. KT Tunstall's "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" loses a little of Tunstall's assertiveness but gains a shuffling, funky feel from Kalaf's drums. The trio performs "Un Canadien Errant," a traditional song from Quebec, as a gently, wistful waltz with an occasional shift in pulse and emphasis that surprises without spoiling the moodit also gives McGillicuddy the chance to take the spotlight with his own lyrical solo.
Durra, McGillicuddy and Kalaf play three or four nights a week around Los Angeles and this consistent work clearly helps them to knit together as a unit. Durra has also played some critically acclaimed shows at the Edinburgh Festival, not the easiest of places to make an impression. All this experience and expertise, coupled with Durra's inspired song selection, gives Rocket Science a special spark.
Track Listing: The Hardest Button To Button; One Love; Black Horse And The Cherry Tree; Home; El
Nine Eleven; According To You; Living For The City; Back In The USSR; Un Canadien
My Life; La Puerta Negra.
Personnel: Louis Durra: piano; Ryan McGillicuddy: bass; Jerry Kalaf: drums; Larry Steen: bass (1,