Bob Washut is a musical product of Northern Iowa University and has taken upon himself to gather together two close friends to do a piano trio CD. Of the eleven tunes, seven are Washut compositions. All the tunes are musical expressions of Washut's admiration for a specific individual. Some of them are well-known jazz musicians, like Lee Konitz and Rufus Reid. One is to his bassist, Mark Urness. (Mr. Urness, by the way, has performed with another native Iowan jazz player of note, Dick Sturman). The remaining honorees are individuals who had a positive effect on Mr. Washut at some point during his life. The other songs are by composers who Washut admires and respects; ergo we have compositions by Alan Broadbent, Andy Razaf (in collaboration with others) and Duke Ellington, not a bad trio themselves. The final piece on this album is by bassist, Mark Urness.
Most of the Washut compositions are introspective and tend to be melancholy. But there's some break in the mood with a brighter number thrown in, like "Especial-Lee," from time to time. Washburn's melodies remind me of the music favored by George Winton on his early Windham Hill outings. If you are in the old Windham Hill style, you'll go for Washburn's. His interpretations of the two chestnuts on the album "Stompin' At the Savoy" and "Caravan" displays his ability to take an oft-played standard and give it a different but credible read. "Stompin'..." is done with a quirky meter pattern, up tempo, but not the swing rhythm usually associated with the performance of this tune. The tune showcases Kevin Hart's percussive skills. His drum solo is not built on loud, gaudy pyrotechnics, but upon an understated well constructed set of rhythmic patterns, consistent with the relaxed mood established for this set. "Caravan" is done with a Latin beat and showcases Washut's technical command of the keyboard. Urness on bass and Hart again on drums, get a good workout on this almost six minute up tempo reading of the Ellington/Tizol masterpiece. The only avant gardish sounding piece on the set is "Sphere's Mirror" which is done in honor of drummer Matt Wilson.
Songbook is like many other CDs, pleasing music performed by talented musicians, but one that does not compel you to pull it off the shelf very often.