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Katahdin's Edge: Step Away (2004)

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Katahdin's Edge: Step Away How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Named for the mountain that forms the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trial, Katahdin's Edge presents a more traditional jazz keyboard trio mainly led by the acoustic piano of composer Willie Myette (who composed and produced all eight selections here) with drummer Mike Connors (also of Combustible Edison) and bassist John Funkhouse (leader of his own band, FunkHouse).

Myette's articulate, intelligent constructions intimate toward Bill Evans' soaring flights of spontaneous, adventurous creativity, especially as "Wagons of the Night" and "Full Circle" tumble toward their conclusions like roaring, untamed musical waterfalls. His songs also feature a sense of simple—not simple-minded or simplistic, but uncluttered—reverence toward beauty that in its best moments suggests Keith Jarrett lost in reverie or the Pat Metheny Group (especially the Groups with lyrical pianist Lyle Mays).

But as principal solo voice Myette's bows most often to such Latin-tinged names as Vince Guaraldi and Chick Corea. His piano sparkles with classic and modern jazz and Spanish and Russian influences that stream like spring water through his flowing melodies. He dances a laughing tango in "Enigma," where Connors softly thumps Latin percussion to stroll with Funkhouse's bass solo, and nimbly twirls Latin rhythms to end "Soulmates." His left piano hand, in tandem with the bass, supplely navigates the rhythmic footing to the Russian-sounding, galloping horse melody and thunder of "Zargonic Effect."

Myette's playfully yet sadly gorgeous melodies of "Wagons of the Night," "Traveler in the Dark" and "Full Circle" strike warm, beautiful pastoral chords, marked in time by sketched bass and drum brushstrokes, and climax in celebratory, joyous noise. Not simple. Simply beautiful.

Step Away proves a more than worthy addition to the modern jazz piano trio catalog.

Track Listing: Step Away; Enigma; Wagons of the Night; Full Circle; Zargonic Effect; Traveler in the Dark; Soulmates; Zoeie

Personnel: John Funkhouser (bass), Willie Myete (piano), Mike Connors (drums)

Record Label: Incline Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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