Five years passed between the debut release from PLS.trio and this follow-up. East River (Echo Chamber) was one of the best albums of 2015 and elevated the piano trio format in a way that had not been heard since the Esbjorn Svensson Trio first made their mark. The COVID-19 virus kept PLS.trio off the stage, and a series of business and life events kept them out of the recording studio for long enough to cause doubt that they would hold together. Finally, Italian pianist & composer Pier Luigi Salami and his American rhythm section, of bassist Martin Fowler and drummer Shawn Crowder return for their welcome sophomore outing, Cosmonauts.
The trio members are all 2010 Berklee College of Music graduates whose musicality has been refined by their early years of playing in and around the robust Boston jazz scene. Now transplanted to New York, PLS.trio has shored up its sound with a greater use of electronics and a broader compositional palette.
A field recording of birds and Crowder's primitive beat usher in the very brief "Conquering." Salami picks up the thread with a compelling groove which carries over to "#stronglion." A natural rawness closes as the two-song segment is pushed out of the frame by the slow-paced scraping of the bass. A similar approach is taken with "Just Before"at a bit over one minuteand the subsequent "The Heppicola Aftermath," both elegantly hypnotic. The title track may seem like kitchen sink methodologystately, spacey, noisy, and tranquilbut it manages to be poignant just the same.
The justified comparisons of PLS.trio to e.s.t. are felt on "Look Ahead," and "B.E.C"; reflective but with powerful, driving rhythms, the band's interactions are on a higher level. The album closes with an unusual interpretation of Puccini's "Nessun Dorma" from the opera Turandot. Italian vocalist Giorgia Renosto supplies a warm, rich, and low-key reading which conceals the aria's origin. Cosmonauts finds PLS.trio looking outward and experimenting but not so much as to obscure their unique talent for stunning spontaneity. Let,us hope it isn't another five years before we hear from them again.
Conquering; #stronglion; Look Ahead; Cosmonauts; B.E.C.; Just Before; The Heppicola Aftermath; What For; F0; Nessun