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Topology And Trichotomy: Healthy

Bruce Lindsay By

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Collaboration is a jazz staple, just one of the many ways musicians seek to breathe a freshness into their performance or composition. Mostly, such collaborations take place between individuals. Healthy takes collaboration one stage further, joining together two Australian outfits—jazz piano trio Trichotomy and contemporary classical quintet Topology—on a collection of original compositions plus a take on Steve Reich's "Clapping Music."

Trichotomy—pianist Sean Foran, bassist Pat Marchisella and drummer John Parker—has released five impressive, critically-acclaimed, albums. On "Start," from third album, Variations (Naim Label, 2010) the band was joined by Topology's saxophonist, John Babbage, violinist Christa Powell and viola player Bernard Hoey. That session was recorded in 2007, three years before the Healthy sessions took place. It clearly set the foundations for this expanded collaboration.

Topology formed in 1997 and has worked with a diverse array of artists including the Brodsky Quartet, John Adams, John Zorn and Michael Nyman. Healthy brings Topology and Trichotomy together as a single unit for the first time. Composer credits are shared between Topology's Babbage and Robert Davidson and Trichotomy's Foran and Parker. The performances come across as the work of a single unit, an octet, rather than two separate bands—a testament to the expertise of each of the musicians.

The skittering, frenetic, "Clapping Music" is the octet's shining light. The energy emanating from the musicians (especially Parker's drums) gives the piece a strength and positivity. The scope of the original tunes ranges from saxophonist John Babbage's lovely "Lost At Sea" and Foran's equally beautiful, folksy, "A New Beginning" to Foran's wild "That Which Is Not Fleeting" and Parker's free-form "Intro To A Healthy Lifestyle V3" and its partner, the jumpy, diverse, "Healthy Lifestyle V3."

It's a broad scope, drawing on contemporary classical music, jazz improvisation and the occasional snatch of funk and soul. As such, it's hard to pinpoint an archetypal "Topology And Trichotomy Sound"—if there should be such a thing. Healthy is an open, imaginative, album from a collaboration that has the potential to take off in any one of many exciting directions.

Track Listing: Generations; That Which Is Not Fleeting; Clapping Music; Mean; Intro To A Healthy Lifestyle V3; Healthy Lifestyle V3; A New Beginning; Round Roads; Lost At Sea.

Personnel: John Babbage: saxophone; Kylie Davidson: piano; Sean Foran: piano, Fender Rhodes; Christa Powell: violin; Bernard Hoey: viola; Robert Davidson: bass; Pat Marchisella: bass; John Parker: percussion.

Title: Healthy | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced

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