Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

452

Crimson Jazz Trio: King Crimson Songbook Volume Two

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
It's nothing new to take contemporary popular music and interpret it in a jazz context, but few groups are formed around the singular premise of exploring just one group. The Crimson Jazz Trio (CJ3)—pianist Jody Nardone, bassist Tim Landers and drummer Ian Wallace (the trio's formative drive and direct link to King Crimson, playing on the often undervalued Islands (Island, 1971))—hit relative pay dirt with The King Crimson Songbook Volume One (DGM Live, 2005). Wallace's unexpected passing in February, 2007 makes King Crimson Songbook Volume 2 all the more important, the trio's swan song and final opportunity to capitalize on Volume One's successes while, at the same time, eliminate any perceived weaknesses.



As compelling as Volume One was, the group played it a little too safe, being a little too reverent to music by a group for whom risk is a fundamental. Sure, Nardone, Landers and Wallace took songs like "Red," "Starless" and "Ladies of the Road," and gave them a more swinging attitude and sophisticated harmonizing. But from the first moments of In the Court's title track, which opens Volume Two, it's clear that CJ3 has pushed the limits of interpretation much further. Condensing the tune's lengthy chorus into something more hard-driving and drum-driven that becomes an ostinato for a powerful drum solo near the song's end, there's a stronger feeling of a group who may respect its source material, but has decided this time around to throw away preconceptions and go for it more fervently.



As with its predecessor, Volume Two covers a broad swath of Crimson material. The title track to In the Court of the Crimson King (Island, 1969) is largely Latin-esque, while a fiercely up-tempo version of In the Wake of Poseidon's (Island, 1970) "Pictures of a City" goes even further out than the original despite the trio's reduced instrumentation and acoustic bent. There are two tracks from Thrak (DGM Live, 1995)—an elegantly balladic take of "One Time," which opens up into an extended double-time spot for Nardone, and the dark-hued "Inner Garden," featuring the pianist on vocals.



The 18-minute "Islands Suite," which incorporates two of Islands' best tracks—"Formantera Lady," here taken even more impressionistically than the original, and the rubato "Sailor's Tale," which features CJ3, augmented by Crimson alum/saxophonist Mel Collins, at its interpretive best—also features brief solo segments for each member of the trio. Wallace's "Press Gang" orbits around the definitive 6/8 pulse of the original "Sailor's Tale" but goes further, while Landers' "The Plank" is a rare opportunity to hear the bassist, who sticks mostly to his fretless electric, soloing impressively on the acoustic incarnation.



With Wallace now gone, it's unlikely that there will be a Volume Three, but with its second kick at the Crimson can, Crimson Jazz Trio has both fully delivered on its promise and created a lasting tribute to Wallace, who may have left Crimson over 30 years ago, but for whom his relatively brief tenure was clearly a life-altering experience.


Track Listing: The Court of the Crimson King; Pictures of a City; One Time; Frame By Frame; Inner Garden; Hearbeart; Islands Suite: Press Gang, Zero Dark Thirty, Formantera Lady, Sailor's Tale, The Plank; Lament.

Personnel: Ian Wallace: drums; Jody Nardone: piano, vocal (5); Tim Landers: bass; Mel Collins: soprano saxophone (4), tenor saxophone (9, 10).

Title: King Crimson Songbook Volume Two | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Inner Knot

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Live at Pyatt Hall CD/LP/Track Review Live at Pyatt Hall
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Flying Heart CD/LP/Track Review Flying Heart
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 23, 2018
Read The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow CD/LP/Track Review The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow
by John Sharpe
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Solano Canyon CD/LP/Track Review Solano Canyon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read "Sanguinaria (Hopeful Songs)" CD/LP/Track Review Sanguinaria (Hopeful Songs)
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 24, 2017
Read "Uncharted Waters" CD/LP/Track Review Uncharted Waters
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 11, 2017
Read "Taking Direction" CD/LP/Track Review Taking Direction
by Marithe Van der Aa
Published: April 4, 2017
Read "In Transit" CD/LP/Track Review In Transit
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: December 27, 2017
Read "Triloka: Music for Strings and Soloists" CD/LP/Track Review Triloka: Music for Strings and Soloists
by Ian Patterson
Published: March 16, 2017
Read "Lessons And Fairytales" CD/LP/Track Review Lessons And Fairytales
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 23, 2017