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High-brow concept albums and lofty recording projects seem to come out every day and many people tend to get hung up on ideas, overlooking the fact that actual musicianship is also central to the art of creating music of substance. Sometimes, some of the most satisfying musical moments simply arrive when like-minded musicians sit down and play together. This would appear to be the case with "Live" @ Charlie O's. Drummer Peter Erskine, bassist Chuck Berghofer, and pianist Terry Trotter cemented their musical relationship with a once-a-month gig at this California jazz club and they recorded one of these shows for all to hear.
While each of their sets is probably a bit different, the performance captured here is a collection of ballads and casual, leisurely paced swing-based material. While the tempo never flies, energy and creativity are always present in the music. Listening to Erskine's performance is akin to attending a drum seminar on tact. Whether lightly implying the groove with brushes on his snare drum or creating a bit more heat with his ride patterns, causing rivets to sizzle away, Erskine always seems to know what's best for each moment. Berghofer often hovers in the background, providing firm walking bass lines and keen harmonic and rhythmic support in all the proper places. When he does take a solo, he is fully absorbed and connected to the music at hand. His supple sound and deep groove are on full display when he solos on "How Deep Is The Ocean" and he provides some ominous, booming bass work during "Charlie's Blues."
While the swinging songs belong to all three members of this trio, Trotter owns the ballads. His lengthy introduction on "Ghost of a Chance," and the cadenza at the conclusion of this piece, are works of art in and of themselves. Erskine even responds to his light touch on this track with some of the silkiest and smoothest brushwork imaginable. Another long piano segment, with a more relaxed and impressionistic feel to it, ushers in a heartbreaking performance of "Blood Count." On the swing-based material, Trotter connects with Erskine as both men trade solos with glee. Communication is often the key in small group work and these three men clearly speak the same language throughout "Live" @ Charlie O's.
Track Listing: Put Your Little Foot Right Out; Afternoon In Paris; Ghost Of A Chance;
How Deep Is The Ocean; Blood Count; Charlie's Blues; Lament.
Personnel: Chuck Berghofer: bass; Terry Trotter: piano; Peter Erskine: drums.