330

Bill Stewart Trio: Keynote Speakers

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Bill Stewart Trio: Keynote Speakers Drummer Bill Stewart puts out records under his own name all too infrequently. Maybe it's because he's too busy since he first emerged in the late '80s as a sideman for artists like guitarists John Scofield and Pat Metheny, saxophonist Chris Potter, pianists Bill Charlap and Bill Carrothers, and saxophonist/arranger Bob Belden. He's also been a constant musical companion for a fellow Scofield alumnus, keyboardist Larry Goldings, appearing on almost all of Goldings' releases since '91's The Intimacy of the Blues.

It's been eight years since Stewart last released an album—if you discount '98's Think Before You Think, a reissue of an '89 session previously only available in Japan. Based on his two previous Blue Note releases, '95's Snide Remarks and '97's Telepathy, what you can expect from Stewart are heady compositions that still manage to groove and swing with the kind of fluid elasticity that have characterized his work all along. What differentiates the independently-released Keynote Speakers is that he's put together a rather unconventional trio with Larry Goldings (primarily on organ) and Kevin Hays (on piano and electric piano)—either the oddest piano trio you've ever heard, or the most unusual organ trio.

As with Stewart's previous releases, you're not likely to find much in the way of drum pyrotechnics—although Stewart is his usual consistently inventive self throughout. That's not to say he doesn't take the occasional solo. But when he does, as in the opening to "Squid, it's more about atmosphere and melody than polyrhythmic extravagance. No, when Stewart puts out an album, it's more about composition and creating a group vibe, and on Keynote Speakers he creates a distinctive one indeed.

Stewart's compositional style leans to the cerebral and the harmonically abstract. Even on the relaxed swing of "How Long is Jazz? —essentially a blues—there's a strangely unsettled feeling, mainly because Stewart chooses slightly off-kilter close harmonies and odd dissonance for his thematic construct. Even the gentle "Chorale takes a tender melody and lends it a darker complexion by supporting it with more oblique changes. The open-ended "Enjoy It is even more obscure, with an idiosyncratic concept that blurs the line between form and freedom. And with its shifting meters that somehow remain moving on a purely physical level, "Don't Ever Call Me Again is something you might hear on a Scofield disc, evincing the same uncanny ability to skirt the line between the inside and the outside.

Goldings and Hays avoid the potential for excessive density that can arise from two keyboards together. Both are capable of the kind of spacious accompaniment that—along with Stewart's delicate yet substantive approach—gives Keynote Speakers an almost lighter-than-air ambience. And yet, for all its avoidance of overt powerhouse tactics, Keynote Speakers grooves insistently. As intellectual as Stewart's conception is, it also retains a certain earthiness that keeps it grounded and, for all its esoteric harmonic ideals, completely engaging.

Keynote Speakers is available exclusively through CDBaby on the web.


Track Listing: Good Goat; How Long is Jazz?; Chorale; Enjoy It; Don't Ever Call Me Again; Just in Time; Divine's Intervention; Squid; Ballad of Kae; Wayne Cooler; Florgan; Haze

Personnel: Bill Stewart (drums, cymbals, gongs); Larry Goldings (Hammond organ, Korg organ on

Title: Keynote Speakers | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Second Act CD/LP/Track Review Second Act
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Imaga Mondo CD/LP/Track Review Imaga Mondo
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Port Of Call CD/LP/Track Review Port Of Call
by John Sharpe
Published: August 23, 2017
Read May I Introduce To You CD/LP/Track Review May I Introduce To You
by James Nadal
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Honey And Salt CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2017
Read To the Bone CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 22, 2017
Read "Choice" CD/LP/Track Review Choice
by Dave Wayne
Published: October 7, 2016
Read "Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs" CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 27, 2017
Read "Absurdist Theater" CD/LP/Track Review Absurdist Theater
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 9, 2016
Read "The Drive" CD/LP/Track Review The Drive
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 16, 2016
Read "Grace" CD/LP/Track Review Grace
by James Nadal
Published: August 5, 2017
Read "Araminta" CD/LP/Track Review Araminta
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 17, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.