203

Drop Trio: Cezanne

Mark Sabbatini By

Sign in to view read count
Drop Trio: Cezanne
The unplugged thing is old hat. So are trios doing loose funk jams barely anchored by ear-catching hooks. But that doesn't mean their albums aren't a blast when well done.



Cezanne finds the Houston-based Drop Trio doing more of the acoustic thing on its third album, although the fast pace and largely improvisational character is unchanged. Drop Trio remains a largely regional band after three years in a crowded field, but like a good roadhouse cafe on Route 66, these players offer the quality substance that makes a real find for those stopping by.



The songs come from a live performance in May of 2005 at the Houston club Cezanne's, hence the album's name. Three are new compositions, the others new or extended interpretations of material from two previous albums, Leap and Big Dipper. An instinct to gripe about the lack of new material mostly disappears after a comparative listen, as most of the older material gets a thorough enough shaking to be fresh.



"Wreck Of The Zephyr," for instance, shifts from a four-minute, steady-beat bit of keyboard noodling on Big Dipper to a ten-minute series of more complex off-the-meter beats, including a loose early solo by drummer Nuje Blattel that gives way to a light ballad by pianist Ian Varley. That gives way to a somewhat chaotic repeating riff before a closing group collaboration. It retains about as much relation to the original as a cousin of the opposite sex.



"Robot Suit I," from the improvised Leap album, goes the opposite direction, from two minutes of freeform organ jamming to a five-minute piano and synth effort that spends some time in a comfortable hook. But like most other songs it shifts themes frequently, elevating it above the vamp-and-beat drone of many jam trios.



Among the new compositions, "Luna" is the most fun because its loose style suits the band's improvisational character (it's described as "a reggae-influenced piece written on stage in San Antonio"). "L.U.G." and "Shelby" are more complex showcases of the group's well-schooled side, but for those preferring solos to themes will find the best moments of the show elsewhere. Varley's meditative piano on "Smithee's Second" and Blattel's high-intensity work on "Invisible Pants" are fine examples of such moments from opposite ends of the style spectrum.



Perhaps the best thing about Cezanne is that it shows Drop Trio has staying power by successfully taking a different artistic approach on each of its albums, despite the lack of new material. If these guys' composition skills remain as fresh as their playing, they should be around for the long haul, and they might get a chance to spend significant amounts of their time beyond their southern base—if one considers that a blessing during the winter months.

Track Listing

Wallawalla; L.U.G.; Abbey Rhodes; Luna; Wreck Of The Zephyr; Mothership; Smithee's Second; Shelby; Wet Dog; Robot Suit: I; Invisible Pants.

Personnel

Ian Varley: keyboards; Nuje Blattel: drums; Patrick Flanagan: bass.

Album information

Title: Cezanne | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Self Produced

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Hug!
Hug!
Matt Wilson Quartet
Read Touch & Go
Touch & Go
Susan Tobocman
Read The Ilkley Suite
The Ilkley Suite
Jamil Sheriff
Read Moving Through Worlds
Moving Through Worlds
Fiona Joy Hawkins
Read Data Lords
Data Lords
Maria Schneider Orchestra
Read Sleepy Town
Sleepy Town
Jamie Pregnell
Read Momento
Momento
Dave Milligan
Read Peace
Peace
Spirit Fingers

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.