Boston's Berklee College of Music has the reputation as an incubator of some top rated musicians including Quincy Jones, Diana Krall and Melissa Etheridge among others. So it should come as no surprise that the threesome attached to this recording, bassist Jeff Denson, guitarist Romain Pilon and drummer Brian Blade were all standout students and friends while simultaneously attending Berklee.
Like many other musicians, the two terrible years of the Covid-19 pandemic, put many communal activities on hold ( recording/concerts/clubs etc.). So regrouping for this 2022 recording session Finding Light, they hoped to pick up where they left off in 2019/2020 when they were recording, travelling and playing together. This ten track outing consists of original material either from the pen of Denson or Pilon that is meant to capture the pleasure of the group now being together after the forced separation caused by the pandemic.
The opening number is "Daily Jubilee of Dancing Herbie D." one of the six originals composed by Denson. It is an up tempo, jaunty offering with a rhythmic nod towards New Orleans. The following contribution is the title track, "Finding Light," another Denson original. It is meant to tell a hopeful story that emerging from the pandemic would bring. Denson and Blade are engaged in a musical pas de deux that shows polish over power. The first of the four Pilon charts is entitled "This Way Cooky." If one can get over the fact that the number is an "homage" to his pooch, it has a waggish groove with some funky elements which the band has integrated into a robust exposition of the chart.
Although the music in this session is a reflection of the group's forced hiatus due to Covid, the true impetus for the album goes back to 2017 when Denson and Blade were part of a different touring group and they just clicked musically. Their interaction is the backbone to the trio's cohesion. One example: the way they push each other in Denson's swinging piece,"The Tipster."
The final three tracks are all compositions by Pilon: "Terre"(Earth)," "Espoir"(Hope)" and "Sixto." While his compositional style is different from Denson's and his inspiration is sometimes grounded in his French background, each number is a smartly sturdy composition with ample harmonic sophistication. This is a fine and satisfying follow-up to their initial release.
Daily Jubilee Of Dancing Herbie D.; Finding Light; This Way Cooky; A Moment In Time; Wishing
Well; The Tipster; Terre Intro; Terre; Espoir; Sixto.
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