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Bill Stewart Trio Live at the Copenhagen Jazzhouse

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Bill Stewart Trio
Copenhagen Jazzhouse
September 22, 2005

At his trio's first gig on their second European tour, Bill Stewart opened the show by telling us how happy he was to be back at the Copenhagen Jazzhouse, "one of the best jazz clubs in the world." Not a bad compliment!

Organist Larry Goldings and pianist Kevin Hays have, just like Bill himself, been involved in many projects on the American jazz, fusion and funk scene. Names like Maceo Parker, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, and James Brown absolutely helps to bring bigger audiences to the gigs. Without necessarily giving us a hint of what the music sounds like—because this group is on a higher musical level than all of those groups. If I would compare the sound to anything else, it sometimes reminds me of Tony Williams' Lifetime. The music is very dynamic, present and free from all labels and borders, letting us all share the magic of each moment. This is what keeps us coming to the jazz club—we can only experience it then and there!

The composition of this fairly new trio is a good example of the advantage of selecting band members out of your personal preferences, rather than which instruments they play. Piano, organ and drums does not sound like the obvious instrumentation, but the deep level of communication between these musicians make you realize that this is actually a perfect setup! We can hear how the keyboard players inspire each other, just like two guitar players in the same band do, since they can identify with and pick up on each other's lines. Maybe I should not single out any one of these three great musicians, but Larry Golding's playing was truly outstanding: always inventive, moving in an incredibly wide range of expression. But then of course I must also mention Bill Stewart's truly unique drum solos and the way he was smacking those brushes and Kevin Hays' hip, distorted Fender Rhodes sound.

The spacy interplay, going from cool to intense, from walking to funky, without a dull second, left the audience in the packed club almost breathless (except for the occasional enthusiastic screams and hollers). The compositions with funny names like "Good Goat," "How Long Is Jazz?" and "Don't Ever Call Me Again" were quite loose, serving as vehicles for the telepathic interplay rather than locking the music up in a fixed structure. And Bill Stewart's dry sense of humour put smiles on our already delighted faces: introducing "It Could Happen To You," one of very few standards, with "Can't remember who wrote it. Some old guy. Some old dead guy."

(By the way, I looked it up. Johnny Burke and James Van Heusen, whoever they were...)

And the sense of humour and playfulness was ever present that night, not only while introducing the songs, but in the general atmosphere of musical joy and creativity that filled the room that night.


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