Bassist Kevin Tkacz is joined by Bill Carrothers
on piano and Michael Sarin
on drums for his first trio release, It's Not What You Think
, a mix of composed and improvised tunes recorded in Brooklyn, New York, during March 2007.
On his website, Tkacz describes the CD as "seven improvisations, two notated compositions, and one thoughtlessly re-interpreted standard." The standard is Rodgers and Hart's "It's Easy to Remember" but the trio's re-interpretation sounds far from thoughtless: the tune's melody is never far from the surface, but the extended ten minute workout gives Carrothers and Tkacz the chance to produce impressive solos. Carrothers' playing is delicate and considered, but for much of the time he also appears to strum directly on the piano strings, creating a strident metallic sound that makes for an interesting but not particularly sympathetic addition to this reworking of the song.
The two notated compositions, both by Tkacz, are "I said..." and ""Promenade (for Christina)." "I said..." is characterized by Tkacz's strong, funky playing. At first, it's at the back of the mix, behind Sarin's drums and Carrothers' chunky chordal playing, but it holds the piece together and, as Carrothers drops out and Sarin's drum patterns become simpler, the bass moves to the forefront. "Promenade (for Christina)" opens slowly, with plenty of space between Sarin's percussion, before Carrothers joins in with similarly sparse and economical piano. Tkacz's bass eventually appears, again well back in the mix, as the trio creates a hypnotic and relaxing performance reminiscent of Australian improvisational trio The Necks
The seven improvised pieces ensure that each of the musicians is given ample opportunity to play. The talent and inventiveness displayed on these tunes is, at times, staggering. Sarin's drum solo in the final minute or so of "Yo, Jimmy!," the interplay between all three musicians on the opening "East Riverdance," and the opening solos from Tkacz and Carrothers on "Gross Motor Skills" are just three examples of each musicians' abilities. The trio's fresh and skillful approach to playing and composing comes across clearly on It's Not What You Think
, boding well for future collaborations.