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Trioscope: Trioscope Featuring Chris Cheek (2006)

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Trioscope: Trioscope Featuring Chris Cheek How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The members of Trioscope have played together for close to ten years, and that is far more than your ordinary house band can say, though one of their steady gigs has been at the popular Christiania Jazz Club in Denmark. This self-titled debut finds the trio (pianist Marko Martinovic, bassist Kristor Brodsgaard, drummer Janus Templeton) alongside special guest saxophonist Chris Cheek on six of the nine tracks, covering original and new material.

While it's generally under a mainstream jazz canopy, the music is open and fresh, marked by interesting shifts and an intimate sound covering a variety of themes. "Offbeat Livin' switches from a whimsical vamp into pleasant piano and sax interludes, its theme has varying tension.

The trio also has a propensity to shift musical directions, which keeps the music vibrant. The title piece serves up bop-themed swing, only to give way to a quiet saxophone solo and an uncanny but effective bowed solo by Brodsgaard. On "B Sharp in C Sharp the music integrates touches of chamber and contemporary music styles with free improvisation.

Chris Cheek, who has been making a name for himself as a smooth and versatile saxophonist, is featured heavily, and he glows on slower numbers like "Inconsequence of Life where his blustery tone is diffused with sentiment. Yet he is always propelled by the strength of the trio's musicianship and unity. This is most obvious on an exquisite version of the classic ballad "Where Are You? where his tenor is enhanced by the skilled accompaniment.

Marko plays the piano with a classical impressionist flavor, but also with a certain spontaneity that's reminiscent of two of his contemporaries, Jason Moran and Frank Kimbrough. Brodsgaard and Templeton equalize the other sides of the triangle with robust bass and blossoming drums. The resulting music is enjoyable and poignant—thankfully, not just another stuffy and conventional piano trio recording.

Track Listing: Offbeat Livin'; Trioscope; B Sharp in C Sharp; Inconsequence of Life; Wayne's World; Where Are You?; Memorandum; The Girl With 3 Names; Nardis.

Personnel: Marko Martinovic: piano; Kristor Brodsgaard: bass; Janus Templeton: drums; Chris Cheek: tenor saxophone (1-4,6,7).

Record Label: Cope Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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