Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
151

Neal Cowley Trio: Displaced

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count Views
Neal Cowley Trio: Displaced The short story of Neil Cowley is that he was a child prodigy performing Shostakovich at the age of ten, became enormously successful in the pop, soul and funk world, and then emerged from an electronics-induced existential crisis to lead a predominately acoustic, and very hot jazz trio.

If one scored points for pure energy, then Cowley would win by a mile, but Displaced has much more going for it than that. However, comparisons do help relay information and Cowley's style would put him at the far opposite corner of the piano-playing universe than someone like ECM's Tord Gustavsen.

Classically trained players, if they turn to jazz, usually keep touch as part of their arsenal—think of the two Stefanos, Bollani and Battaglia, on their respective records Piano Solo (ECM, 2007) and Re: Pasolini (ECM, 2007)). This is not to say that Cowley is a banger, but rather that he has things other than subtle touch on his mind.

The tone of Displaced is established immediately by the first two tracks, "Little Secrets" and "How Do We Catch Up" (which reappears in a remix version as the last track). Both feature very strong left hand vamps, the first played in unison by bassist Richard Sadler from the outset, while the second is taken over by the bass from the piano. Both tracks can get so thick with double-handed chords, the splashing cymbals of Evan Jenkins with the bass line mixed inside of it all, that one might feel like drowning, except that Cowley knows exactly when to let up and thin it out, only to build again.

The effect is like being picked up by a wave and having it crash over you as it carries you to shore, and as much fun. However, the dark and romantic title cut immediately follows, allowing some aural breathing room, before it, too, swells to an intense climax before receding.

The rest of the album is like this, with an extremely tight band producing a sound that is dense and moving in many directions at once. One moment your attention will be pulled to Cowley, then next to Sadler only to end up on Jenkins, until you realize that the sound enmeshing you is that of the total trio.

Of course, there will be listeners who will long for more variety in the overall sound and the harmony or emotional pitches reached, and perhaps this cannot be helped with a musical personality as strong as Cowley's. This, however, is a small quibble when presented with such a fresh, though insistent, new voice and conception.


Track Listing: Little Secrets; How Do We Catch Up; Displaced; Pair of Teeth; She Eats Flies; Degree in Intuition; That's My Space; Clown Town; Pinball Number Count; Kenny Two Steps; Mourn; Pillar to Post; Taller Than Me; How Do We Catch Up (The Entity Mix).

Personnel: Neil Cowley: piano; Richard Sadler: bass; Evan Jenkins: drums.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Hide Inside Records | Style: Modern Jazz


CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Touch and Flee
Touch and Flee
Naim Label
2014
buy
Neil Cowley Trio: The Face of Mount Molehill
Neil Cowley Trio: The...
Naim Label
2012
buy
Radio Silence
Radio Silence
Naim Label
2011
buy
Radio Silence
Radio Silence
Naim Label
2010
buy
Loud Louder Stop
Loud Louder Stop
Cake
2008
buy
Displaced
Displaced
Hide Inside Records
2007
buy
Kurt Elling Kurt Elling
vocalist
Jimmy McGriff Jimmy McGriff
organ, Hammond B3
Charlie Hunter Charlie Hunter
guitar, 8-string
Eddie Henderson Eddie Henderson
trumpet
Tom Arthurs Tom Arthurs
trumpet
Julian Siegel Julian Siegel
saxophone

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.