The modernistic piano trio, MEM3, draws influences from the innovative e.s.t. (Esbjorn Svensson Trio) and the Bad Plus, as well as the legendary drummer Peter Erskine's trio recordings. Circles, MEM3's second outing, puts them in the league with those higher profile groups as they craft an understated and unfailingly lovely trio sound enhanced with subtle electronic effects and fluid interplay.
Circles is a remarkably cohesive statement. Pianist Michael Cabe, bassist Mark Lau and drummer Ernesto Cervini craft a distinctive modern piano trio sound, full of gradual shifts in energy levels and momentums, interspersed with beautifully introspective reveries riding sublimely soulful grooves. Tune-smithing duties are shared equally, with one traditional tune slipped in: "Faith Of Our Fathers," a sound that conjures images, muted and slightly blurred, of sunlight diffusedthe shapes themselves softenedfrom a passage through the angular images of a church's stained glass window.
"For ES" (Esbjorn Svensson) is undiluted joy, understated initially, before bursting into a muscular momentum that fades back to delicacy atop a soft, relentless rhythm. "Centrical," the disc's opener, entices with the sublimely soft touch and charm of a delicately interactive trio. "Native Dancer" is a dark piano groove underlain by a feathery rhythmic backdrop. "Circles," the tune, is a buoyant bass groove riding a shimmering piano and a metronomic drum shuffle, enhanced by an (almost) subliminal electro-effects.
If MEM3 comes out of the e.s.t school of the modern piano approach, Circles, their sophomore effort, rises to the top of the classan enchanting and deceptively complex and straight-through compelling set of sounds.
And the sound should be mentioned. It has a remarkable clarity. It might be possible, just by listening, to count the bristles on drummer Cervini's well-employed brushes, on this set that can sit on the shelve next to the best of the modernistic piano trio outings.
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