The art of the piano trio can go the conservative route. How many players are out there going over the same jazz standards, the same American Songbook tunes? Some do it very well; others sound uninspired. But things evolve. Bill Evans created a quiet revolution with his late fifties/early sixties trio with bassist Scott La Faro and drummer Paul Motian, shifting the trio-mates to more prominent positions in the creation of the sound. Keith Jarrett pushed things further in that directioninjecting a jolt of energywith his Standards Trio, featuring drummer Jack DeJohnette and and bassist Gary Peacock.
Pianist Michael Gallant is pushing into the latest phase in the change of the piano trio style by, in part, plugging in, and by injecting the grit and power of rock music rhythms and electric keyboards and no-holds-barred energy into the mix on Completely, the debut of his Michael Gallant Trio.
Opening with his original, "Greens," Gallant seasons the acoustic piano with his very versatile Nord Electro 3HP keyboard, to create a deeply soulful sound that would be right at home on a small stage in front of a crowded dance floor packed with sweating bodies. Drummer Chris Infusino supplies a powerhouse beat, and bassist Linda May Han Oh lays down a deep groove.
The energy level stays high on "Roundabout," then moves into a wistful and perhaps bittersweet mood on "Lightbulb," with Gallant's considerable acoustic piano chops on full display. A funky bounce and pop of Oh's electric bass introduces the only non-Gallant composition of the set, Pearl Jam's "Go." Gallant switches back and forth between electric and acoustic keyboards, with no overdubs, bringing a sizzling, swirling organ trio feel into the music.
"The Real Maria" swaggers down the sidewalk with a chip-on-her-shoulder, Brooklyn attitude, leading into the forthrightly beautiful opening of the title tune. Again, Gallant moves from acoustic to electric, elegance giving way to grunge and grit.
Completely is a superb debut by an artist unafraid and bending the tradition.
Greens; Roundabout; Lightbulb; Go; Cornelia Street Tango; Problem Withe the Game; The Real Maria; Completely; Love You Better; Candlelight.
Michael Gallant: acoustic and electric pianos; Linda Oh: acoustic and electric bass; Chris Infusino: drums.