259

Live Archive: Drop Trio

Mark Sabbatini By

Sign in to view read count
It's late at night in a strange city, anyone's guess as to what's worth doing and cash is running low. But it's one of those rare occasions when luck strikes, as some promising riffs drift out from some obscure club that turns out to have no cover charge or drink minimum.



Think of this collection as the virtual version of that night on the town.



The Drop Trio is a Houston experimental jazz funk group with an extensive collection of free live downloads, which I discovered essentially by accident while doing some surfing on new ways of paying for music downloads (more on that in a minute). The freebies aren't going to win any sound quality awards, but their blend of old-school funk and contemporary twists are the sort of thing that—in the real world—get out-of-town drifters checking calendars for performances occurring during future visits.



The band's live downloads archive contains 12 MP3 songs totaling 80 minutes in length and about 100MB in size. There are also four full-length performances and radio appearances meant to be played over a streaming connection. Although a savvy surfer can download the full-length performances without too much difficulty, this review focuses on the designated downloads. The band permits taping of its shows, by the way, with at least one posted at the Live Music Archive and others probably all over the 'Net.



A good starting point on the band's page is the two versions of "Melody Melody," featuring an enormously catchy and accessible hook that evolve into jam sessions lasting more than ten minutes apiece. My know-zero-about-the-band guess is this is one of their reliable crowd-pleases. Ian Varley works his Hammond organ rapidly through a set of retro riffs on the shorter version that can only be described as extremely tasty, without traces of acid or other agents that might churn the listeners' tastes. Bassist Patrick Flanagan leaves his bass vamp behind for a brief bit of low-key harmonically inclined soloing and drummer Nuje Blattel's moment in the sun is lively if not exactly uncharted territory. On the longer version Varley teases in an almost childlike fashion at times—bringing in a Rhodes as a playmate—as the rhythm shifts tempo and density around him. Flanagan swings from the Mingus to MMW eras in both traditional and slap pickings, while Blattel handles the multiple changes tastefully if a bit abruptly.



Things get more experimental elsewhere, with Varley dotting various compositions and jams with all sorts of beeps and bips. But two things make these performances easier on the ears than a number of jam bands: 1) the framework of the songs generally stays in some sort of recognizable funk pattern even as they shift pace with regularity and 2) the trio is working in unison instead of coexisting in whatever individual soundscapes overly indulgent players decide to occupy.

The band has two albums, Leap , released in October of 2004, and Big Dipper , a 2003 release. The latter is available as a download in a Windows-only format known as Weed, where songs can be downloaded free and played three times before purchase (an e-mail letting me know about the format is how I came across the band's name). I can't vouch for the album or Weed—as a Mac user it's possible in theory to obtain and play the files, but it's more trouble than simply ordering through conventional means. Sound previews, however, indicate the trio doesn't dial things back much in the studio, so those appreciate of the freebies will hopefully encourage the group to continue its generosity with a little financial support.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Monterey Jazz Festival 2008 Music Sampler Download Reviews The Monterey Jazz Festival 2008 Music Sampler
by Tod Smith
Published: December 27, 2008
Read Oscar Peterson Tribute: Simply The Best Download Reviews Oscar Peterson Tribute: Simply The Best
by Mark Sabbatini
Published: January 17, 2008
Read John Ellis Quartet: Live At Yoshi's - July 18, 2005 Download Reviews John Ellis Quartet: Live At Yoshi's - July 18, 2005
by Mark Sabbatini
Published: June 15, 2006
Read Free "Professor of Sax" Collection Merits a Gold Star Download Reviews Free "Professor of Sax" Collection Merits a Gold...
by Mark Sabbatini
Published: May 10, 2006
Read Guitarist Tim Conley's funky standards and improvisations make for stand-out shows Download Reviews Guitarist Tim Conley's funky standards and...
by Mark Sabbatini
Published: November 11, 2005
Read "King Crimson: Radical Action (To Unseat The Hold of Monkey Mind)" Extended Analysis King Crimson: Radical Action (To Unseat The Hold of Monkey...
by John Kelman
Published: September 10, 2016
Read "SFJAZZ Collective: Remembering Miles" Interview SFJAZZ Collective: Remembering Miles
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: May 18, 2017
Read "Lew Tabackin: A Life in Jazz" Interview Lew Tabackin: A Life in Jazz
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio" Multiple Reviews Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio
by Jim Trageser
Published: January 4, 2017

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!