One way to give a straight-ahead piano trio set a modern edge is to cover some Wayne Shorter tunes. Everything that the onetime mid-sixties Miles Davis sideman has written seems to swirl to the edges of the mainstream without drifting out of it.
Drummer Bruce Johnson opens Don't Sleep On Your Dreams with a dark-toned, stretched-out take of Shorter's "Footprints." Later he combines the sax man's "Iris" with "Pee Wee," penned by the late Tony Williams, who was Miles' drummer during Shorter's mid-sixties tenure. Jackson's drumming on "Footprints" is intricate and assertive, buoying up the grey hues; on "Iris/Pee Wee," he goes with a subtle approach, laying out soft colors and delicate textures behind pianist Bob Himmelberger's pensive sparkle and bassist Nicolas Bayak's deep, dark lines.
On Larry Young's "Paris Eyes," the trio swings bright and straight-ahead. Jackson summons a deft and propulsive whisper from the cymbals, interspersed with some good old-fashioned rollicking on the rest of the drum set.
What makes the recording such a compelling listen is the switch from the modern-edged Shorter tunes to a more mainstream traditional approach on classics like "Never Let Me Go." A gorgeous take on the Weill/Gershwin classic "My Ship" closes the set with a lovely melody, Jackson's hushed brushwork sighing in the background and pianist Himmelberger playing with a very pretty and relaxed precision. A perfect ending to a fine piano trio set.
Track Listing: Footprints; Firewater; Rhythm-A-Ning; Iris/Pee Wee; Paris Eyes; Never Let Me Go; Picadilly
Lilly; My Ship.
Personnel: Bob Himmelberger: piano; Nicolas Bayak: bass; Bruce Jackson: drums.