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James Carney Trio

Craig Jolley By

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Skirball Cultural Center, LA

James Carney's piano style fits his compositional approach: percussive, eccentric, unpredictable, concise. After his theme statement he'll parse his way through a piece one segment at a time, working on that segment until he's ready to move on. Choruses are of indefinite length. The trio is very much of a group concept in touch with the intricacies of his pieces. They participate equally in a piece's evolution during a performance.
Although his writing is at a high level Carney's piano playing is limited in scope. His music would sound more complete with at least one saxophone. A horn ensemble would probably bring out all kinds of possibilities, but I'd guess his music can't be effectively sight read—the ensemble thing (with its rehearsal time) would probably have to be underwritten.
Brief comments on the tunes: "Brassy Shoal Hoe-down"—country meets Monk; "Zelzah"—modal, slow loping tempo picks up later on; "In Lieu of Cross Roads"— Sickafoose featured; "Weird Vernacular"—free section, mostly group interaction, percussive feel; "Pearblossom Heights,"—stark, reminiscent of Charlie Haden's "Silence"; "Louisiana Rocco"—over a complicated ostinato; "Swamp Rookie"—modern boogie woogie.
James Carney - piano; Todd Sickafoose - bass; Dan Morris -drums.


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