The decline of the joyously swinging piano trio has been greatly exaggerated. It may be an endangered species, but it's still out there, roaming the countryside, appearing when you least expect it, and making the occasional trip into a studio. Exhibit A is this fine recording from Dan Trudell, a Midwestern musical treasure who's renowned for his organ playing. Here, he casts aside that behemoth of an instrument and takes to the piano to deliver an ebullient program of music with some help from a world-class rhythm sectionubiquitous drummer Matt Wilson, Trudell's longtime friend and musical compatriot, and stellar bassist Joe Sanders.
While this band is basically a studio-concocted creation with only one rehearsal to its credit prior to making this recording, that shouldn't count against it; hundreds of miles may separate these men, as Wilson and Sanders are in the thick of the jazz scene and Trudell is living and working in Wisconsin, but nothing separates them when they get down to the business of playing. These three are on the same page here, whether delivering an animated performance of a Stevie Wonder hit ("Isn't She Lovely"), a beautifully nuanced interpretation of a modern jewel (Alicia Keys' "The Worth Of A Woman"), or a pair of originals written in honor of two piano giants ("McCoy For Now" for McCoy Tyner and "Jonesin'" for the late Hank Jones).
Trudell's nimble-fingered statements, Wilson's classy and enthusiastic drumming, and Sanders' in-the-zone bass work all come together without a hitch. These three bound along as one, Trudell and Wilson have a ball trading solos time and again, and Sanders literally brings a singing quality to his work, vocalizing along with his pointed solo statements. There's variety in the music, as this trio can give an Ahmad Jamal-worthy facelift to a classic ("That Old Black Magic"), make all the hits and swing with spirit ("If Ever I Would Leave You"), or play it straight for a semi-subdued modern soul scenario ("The Worth Of A Woman"), but there's nothing in that variety of music to alienate or upset the lovers of the piano trio tradition. This music carries wide appeal while helping to shine a light on a pianist deserving some attention.
Isn't She Lovely; I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart; McCoy For Now; Jonesin'; The Old
Black Magic; If Ever I Would Leave You; The Worth Of A Woman; Soulville.
Dan Trudell: piano; Joe Sanders: bass; Matt Wilson: drums.
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