This trio of pianist Georg Graewe, cellist Ernst Reijseger and percussionist Gerry Hemingway was an active aggregate in the early '90s. They slowed down towards the end of the decade and, prior to this album, had not released anything since 1999. Graewe's pianism is as protean as it is beautiful, and he does much to make this seminal trio's return the undeniable success that it is. He doesn't so much helm or control the group as he allows his multifaceted approach to the piano to embody its aesthetic.
But then, action and reaction are two sides of the same coin. In the second part of this suite, to cite only one example of Graewe's reactive and proactive tendencies, he augments and subverts a rhythmic pattern established by Hemingway and Reijseger, with the simple tactic of adding a slower layer. Registrally close, if not in immediate proximity, to Hemingway's celesta and Reijseger's plucked cello, Graewe begins with one note, then brings in another, allowing the texture to bloom and slowly expand. It is a truly magical moment.
It is counterproductive to single out any one member of this trio as some kind of leader. As much now as ever, the group thrives on unity in diversity, on each member's willingness to do what is outlined above. Hemingway's playing is at its most subtly inventive, a huge contrast to, say, his work with Braxton, but no less inventive. Reijseger lives in two worlds, maintaining an open-door policy between tonality and cluster, both making memorable appearances throughout this riveting set.
It is extremely gratifying to hear these three masters of spontaneous composition (not to mention more conventional forms of composition!) in documented communication again after too long a pause. Winter & Winter says that three hours of music were recorded. Not to appear greedy, but might another disc be hidden in there somewhere?
Continuum Phase One through Ten.
Georg Graewe: piano; Ernst Reijseger: cello; Gerry Hemingway: drums, percussion, marimbaphone, celesta.