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These three distinctively different drummer-led sessions in trio, quartet and quintet formats display the dissimilar nature of each leader's musical approach while capturing the common strength of well played music straight from the heart. Reuben Hoch's Of Recent Time presents precisely played piano trio versions of music from a variety of composers whereas Thomas Strønen's Parish is a freely improvisational clarinet/sax quartet textural trip while Burnin' Live at the Jazz Standard is, as the name implies, a double barreled trumpet/sax cooker from Pete Zimmer's quintet.
Hoch, known for his Chasidic Jazz Project that uniquely recasts Jewish liturgical music, again calls on the dazzling interpretive mastery of pianist Don Friedman while adding top bassist Ed Schuller to form an unusually strong jazz piano trio. Tunes come from quite diverse sources such as Ornette Coleman's "Turnaround , here given an initial broad treatment anchored by Friedman before Schuller and Hoch take their turn and Steve Kuhn's "Poem for #15 , delightfully presented with bells and a light piano touch. Friedman's own "Flamands has him laying down a sensuous rhythm while exploring the piece's melodic possibilities before Schuller takes control with some bass-ic conversation. Hoch artfully augments the mood with his cymbal and percussive work on Sam Rivers' "Beatrice , rhythmically drives Pat Metheny's "Question and Answer and beautifully blends with Friedman on a touching version of Brad Mehldau's "Unrequited and Hoch's own "Ballad for Nori . An extended percussive intro sets up a quick paced run through of Wayne Shorter's "Yes and No to end a wonderfully soulful session.
Further left than Hoch's trio, Parish is a deep excursion into laid back musings and coordinated mood pieces peppered with precise playing from all quarters. As much percussionist as drummer, Strønen colors many of these tracks with a succession of taps, knocks, pings, brushes and rolls. He is equally at home pairing with Fredrik Ljungkvist's expressive clarinet and tenor, Mats Eilertsen's emotive bass or the exceptionally communicative piano of Bobo Stenson. A beautiful ballad like the leisurely presented "Easta or the flat out swing of "In Motion is set in amongst more esoteric but exceedingly well defined thematic reflections. Ljungkvist adds a semblance of contemporary chamber sensibility on the shorter "Improvisations and the contemplative four part "Suite for Trio .
While Strønen's music is a cerebrally enjoyable experience, the live session of all original music from Pete Zimmer's quintet is a visceral hardboppers delight. Joel Frahm's tenor is right at the center of this conflagration as he shoots flames out of his horn on a scorching "Getting Dizzy after things have more than warmed up with the sweet up-tempo "Woodside Blues . Zimmer and bassist David Wong can set a torrid pace or take it down a bit as they do for the night's breather, a relaxing "Waltz for Opp that features engagingly romantic solos from trumpet/flugelhornist Michael Rodriguez and Toru Dodo on piano. Rodriguez and his horn add a bit of Latin salsa to the home cookin' sound of "Doin' Somethin while Dodo's own "Brush Pitch features the pianist running up and down the keys while the band shows that hard bop can swing. A superbly played Frahm original, "A Whole New You , tops off the set driving things to a brilliantly bopping conclusion. A super set of stretched out originals, this was a night when all five of these players came out with instruments blazing and everything clicked.
Tracks and Personnel
Of Recent Time
Tracks: Beatrice; Question and Answer; Unrequited; Ballad for Nori; Turnaround; Poem For No.15; Flatlands; Yes And No.
Personnel: Reuben Hoch: drums; Don Friedman: piano; Ed Schuller: bass.
Tracks: Improvisation I; Suite for Trio I; Suite for Trio II; Suite for Trio III; Suite for Trio IV; Improvisation II; Easta; Daddycation; Travel I; Quartz; Murring; Travel II; In Motion; C Moll Maj; Improvisation III; Nu.
Personnel: Bobo Stenson: piano; Fredrik Ljungkvist: clarinet, tenor saxophone; Mats Eilertsen: double-bass; Thomas Strønen: drums.
Burnin' Live at the Jazz Standard
Tracks: Woodside Blues; Getting Dizzy; Doin' Something; Brush Pitch; Waltz of OPP; A Whole New You.
Personnel: Michael Rodriguez: trumpet, flugelhorn; Joel Frahm: tenor saxophone; Toru Dodo: piano; David Wong: bass; Pete Zimmer drums.