The focus of piano-less trio records, right or wrong, is inevitably placed on the inherent freedom of the format. But what of those who simply want to try out said grouping without purposely using it as a springboard to uncertainty and complete openness? Such groups are a rarity, receiving short shrift in the jazz press and even less attention beyond, but they do exist. The IN Trio, made up of bassist Harvie S, saxophonist Tim Armacost, and drummer Christian Finger, is one such band.
Intimate, intense, incandescent, and inventive are just a few of the "in" words that grace the cover of this group's debut album, accurately describing the IN Trio's approach to music-making. Add insightful, intriguing, indelible, and inspired to the list. While these three men are certainly capable of taking the "out" route, they choose the other path here, creating music that's inviting.
The very nature of context and communication alters the DNA of these pieces to some extent, but the IN Trio doesn't look to rewrite songs or history. Instead, it simply plays. The album takes flight as bass and tenor saxophone move comfortably through the head of Charlie Parker's "Quasimodo"; Armacost's alto flute is the focal point on McCoy Tyner's "Contemplation," which floats on a different groove than the original; and Thelonious Monk's "Shuffle Boil" builds in intensity before skulking away. This trinity of holy jazz material serves as the entry point into the world of the IN Trio, but it's only the beginning.
Harvie S's "Truth And Beauty" gives Armacost a chance to charm on soprano, Finger's propulsive drumming keeps things cooking on "My Shining Hour," and all three men come together in the service of beauty on "My Ship." Armacost really rules the roost on that last one, but there's no questioning the chemistry of these three men when Finger paints with cymbals and Harvie S delivers arco lines that blend with saxophone. The album closes out with two different-as-can-be numbers that show the range of this groupKenny Barron's bouncing-and-swinging "The Only One" and Finger's brief-and-barren "Endlessness." These parting gifts point to a level of contrast that shows how inventive the IN Trio can be.
Quasimodo; Contemplation; Shuffle Boil; Truth And Beauty; My Shining Hour; My Ship;
The Only One; Endlessness.