All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Download Reviews


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.


comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.



Drop Trio

CD/LP/Track Review
Download Reviews
Read more articles


Self Produced


Related Articles

Read Bill Frisell: Hurricane Harvey Relief: A Compilation From His Live Download Series Download Reviews
Bill Frisell: Hurricane Harvey Relief: A Compilation From...
by John Kelman
Published: October 1, 2017
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 Christmas Craziness: 60 Free Great, Cheesy and/or Freakish Holiday Albums on the Internet Download Reviews
Christmas Craziness: 60 Free Great, Cheesy and/or Freakish...
by Mark Sabbatini
Published: December 3, 2006
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 "Kasper Staub: Slow Music for Fast Times" Multiple Reviews Kasper Staub: Slow Music for Fast Times
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 13, 2018
Read "Joe Alterman Trio with John Sandfort at The Jazz Corner" Live Reviews Joe Alterman Trio with John Sandfort at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: October 31, 2018
Read "Audioguide: Phenomenal Women To Watch" Radio Audioguide: Phenomenal Women To Watch
by Emily Jones
Published: December 14, 2017
Read "All Over the Map with Losen Records" Multiple Reviews All Over the Map with Losen Records
by Geno Thackara
Published: November 2, 2018
Read "On the Road, Fellini & All That Jazz" Radio On the Road, Fellini & All That Jazz
by Ludovico Granvassu
Published: January 20, 2018