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Chris Crocco: The Chris Crocco Trio + (2010)

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Chris Crocco: The Chris Crocco Trio + How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

What makes music fluid? Is it based on smooth transitions from section-to-section in each piece? The consistent flow of ideas from each individual artist involved in the music making process? The ability of a group to form a bond that allows them to travel along the same routes with simpatico sensibilities? The music of guitarist Chris Crocco's Fluid Trio measures up to any of these standards, and easily lives up to its name. Surprisingly, the "+" in the title is actually bassist Peter Slavov
Peter Slavov
Peter Slavov

bass, acoustic
, and not saxophonist George Garzone
George Garzone
George Garzone
b.1950
sax, tenor
, who appears on just a few tracks. Crocco's debut was a bass-less outing that featured Garzone and drummer par excellence Francisco Mela, both of whom return here, but Slavov is a steady presence on The Chris Crocco Trio +, whereas Garzone is used more sparingly throughout.

Crocco and company don't have a set stylistic agenda, and each track has distinctive qualities that set it apart from the rest. Plaintive balladry—with the disarming Garzone gliding on an aural featherbed—shows up a few tracks into the program with "Silvia," but Crocco starts thing off in a more excited state. "Avenge" is a no-holds-barred burner that begins with an etude-like saxophone-guitar line, but the soloing proves to be of greater interest. "Heaven" follows, built on a slow, strolling swing with Mela and Crocco trading fours toward the end.

Despite plenty on which to chew with all three of these tracks, the real magic begins with "When It Is When," introduced by a pulsing pattern and a unique, funky and immediately present exoticism. Crocco delivers some intriguing, Middle Eastern-tinged guitar lines, while the drumming is beyond category. Mela is magnificent, whether conjuring uniquely trashy cymbal sounds or delivering mind-boggling, heart-pounding solo work over a vamp. Similar fireworks are present on "Metal"—a guitar-drum duo creation which features some of Crocco's most devilish playing, as both men deliver mercurial, magical musical performances.

"Trial of Time" is the album's most straightforward jazz vehicle, turned to solid gold with Garzone's performance, but Crocco proves to be more than capable when the saxophonist—and, for that matter, the rest of the musicians—is removed from the equation. The penultimate performance on this album begins with a minute-long guitar introduction, and Crocco is all class. When the rest of the trio joins him, "My Own Personal Wake" turns into a slow, country-influenced number in the vein of Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
b.1951
guitar
. Crocco turns toward a more introspective sound, leaning toward Appalachian Americana crossed with Irish balladry, on the exquisitely beautiful "My Peace," which pairs him up with Slavov and closes the album. No single word can classify each of these songs, but every performance is fluid in every sense of the word.

Track Listing: Avenge; Heaven; Silvia; When It Is When; Trial Of Time; What It Is; Spice Mine; Metal; My Own Personal Wake; My Peace.

Personnel: Chris Crocco: guitar; Peter Slavov: bass; Francisco Mela: drums; George Garzone: tenor saxophone (1, 3, 5).

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Modern Jazz


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