Do you like your music white hot and intense, even during quieter passages? Do you value individual interplay that creates a total group sound? Do you pine for compositions and interpretations that change the very space around you when you listen? Then Steve Blanco's Contact
is for you.
This trio, however, is not really a piano trio, in the sense of a piano lead with a rhythm section. Bassist Adam Roberts and drummer Sunny Jain are Blanco's equals in this endeavor, and they provide not a mere backing for the piano, but a mesh that surrounds and envelops it. Imagine if you will, any Bill Evans trio at its tightest, combined with the rambling, unpredictable theatricality of Ahmad Jamal at his best, and then increase the intensity quotient five notches by adding the driving, non-stop flow of Jean-Michel Pilc.
Blanco's compositions are full of emotion and create large, intense musico-visual images. His style is hard to pin down, but he has the usual list of favorite players ranging from Tatum, Monk and Powell to Evans, Tyner, Jarrett, Corea and Pilc. The arrangements reinforce the latent drama in the music, but it all would not work without the extraordinary interplay provided by Roberts and Jain.
Roberts is new to me, but he is one of the most melodic and forceful players you will encounter. Many times you will hear him reinforcing Blanco's left hand, only to switch to a contrapuntal bass line or ooze into a walking bass which has the power of a freight train. Every second, however, he is also listening and responding to what Jain is doing.
Jain is everywhere and provides constant feedback to Roberts. If you have heard him previously only within his South Asian milieu, as in his recent Avaaz
, you might be shocked at first listen to this record. However, links to the "ethnic" style based on updated traditional rhythms are apparent immediately at the beginning of "Northbound Image" and more faintly thereafter.
Thus, Roberts and Jain feed off of each other's energy, and then feed it back to Blanco, who starts the loop again. All three players are so alive and aware that the music literally jumps out of the speakers as they give to and take from each other.
Blanco has also created more than one film, and written the music for them. Blanco's home page
is nothing more than an entrance into Insomnia Creations, a company he co-founded as a means to bring artists together and foster a community feeling where ideas and energy can be shared.