The trio اسم [Ism] is comprised of pianist Pat Thomas, bassist Joel Grip and drummer Antonin Gerbal. Japanese Flower by the trio is the second release from a 2018 recording session from Knuttal House in Tokyo, Japan. It is the trio's third release and it follows Metaphor (2019) and إنتقام الطبيعة اسبب تعقدها = Nature In Its Inscrutability Strikes Back (2015), all three released on Umlaut Records. اسم in Arabic, translates to 'Ism" or in English, 'The Name.' For sure, Ism gives a name to this sound, whether that is free improvisation, postmodern post-bop, or just plain liberation music, the trio sets loose anything anchored in place.
Released as an LP (or download), the two sides each present twenty minutes of densely packed energy music. "Dahlia" opens Cecil Taylor- like with Thomas dancing the keys before the trio's liftoff into luminescence. Backed by a surge of cymbal attack and Grip's inter-threading bass, Thomas reaches back through jazz piano history to Bud Powell's finger grooves filtered through an immediacy of sound. As the piece progresses, it picks up a locomotion encouraged by Gerbal's furious brushwork and Grip's scorching fingers. Thomas' solo right hand attack is soon joined by his left for block density. The trio heard here in full flight is a transcendent experience. But wait, there's more. "Tomato" opens with Grip bouncing his bow upon the strings of his bass as Gerbal likewise, drizzles upon his drum kit and Thomas dances a hop, skip and jump across his keyboard. This bounce sprinkle develops into a downpour, then a deluge. The pace quickens as the trio morphs into a speed freak zone, drunk on adrenaline. Of course all that goes up, must come down, and the Ism trio glides to conclusion with an oblique bebop promenade.
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