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Trio East's excellent album Stop-Start opens with a fiery burst of trumpet and drums, establishing an energy that remains even when the trio downshifts into more laid-back tempos. The trumpet motif of the opening track, "Tray-Bo, essentially a wailing minor third, drives the piece forward and lodges the tune in your head long after the album is over.
The members of Trio Easttrumpeter Clay Jenkins, bassist Jeff Campbell, and drummer Rich Thompsonare all members of the jazz faculty at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. In other words, they've got chops.
Three of the nine tracks on Stop-Start are impressive originals by Jenkins. The trumpeter by turns delivers rapid-fire runs and displays a more economic sensibility, sometimes repeating a two-note figure to develop a groove. While there are freer passages, as on the original "Late Bloomer, there's no lack of harmony either, as the trumpet and bass clearly define the chord structures of the tunes.
Rounding out the album are the Lee Morgan title track, tunes by Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, and Mal Waldron, and Ornette Coleman's "Happy House, a brief coda and showcase for Thompson on drums.
Trio East brought those chops to Manhattan in April. For its Sunday night gig at the acoustically-challenged St. Peter's Church on the Upper East Side, the trio was made a quintet by fellow Eastman prof Harold Danko on piano and Rich Perry on tenor sax.
After getting adjusted to the venue on the opening number, Danko's "Tidal Breeze, where Jenkins' solo lines followed logically one after the other, the quintet settled into a fine set. During Thad Jones' "Kids Are Pretty People, with its minor key progressions and gospel-like cadences, Jenkins and Perry traded phrases in a laid-back dialogue.
Campbell's ballad "Song for Ped was a duet for trumpet and bowed bass that took some riveting polytonal turns. The group closed with a hard-swinging version of Monk's quirky "Trinkle, Tinkle, with trumpet and sax playing the head in harmony. Trio East has a good thing going, and I hope its next visit will be sooner rather than later.
Track Listing: 1. Tray-Bo 2. Up Against the Wall 3. Stop-Start 4. Con-Alma 5. In Fine Line 6. Late Bloomer 7. 26-2 8. Soul Eyes 9. Happy House
Personnel: Clay Jenkins, trumpet; Rich Thompson, drums; Jeff Campbell, bass