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Simon Vincent's The Occasional Trio: Live In Berlin

Don Phipps By

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Simon Vincent's The Occasional Trio: Live In Berlin
Released on his own Vision Of Sound label, pianist and composer Simon Vincent's Live in Berlin is a collection of live recordings from two shows in 2018 and 2019 at the Schlot Jazz Club, Berlin, Germany. In the liner notes, Vincent acknowledges the risks of live performance recordings, but at the same time, he states in the liner notes with conviction that: "The studio gives you the possibility to concentrate on details, but you may lose a certain spontaneity, whereas concerts allow you to stretch out and take risks on the spur of the moment in front of a live audience.... (and) that's exactly where I believe music becomes exciting, where it breathes and where it truly comes to life."

Well said. And this album certainly does come to life. Vincent and his Occasional Trio offer up a set of ten Vincent originals that exhibit great variety, from fast, lively pieces such as the opening "Blues In Fink," to reserved, thoughtful ballads such as "Every Moment Of Every Day." There is even an abstraction which borders on atonality ("Prayer To The People And Unto The Land") which, judging from the audience reaction, was bit of a surprise.

Vincent has picked some worthy sidemen for this outing. Roland Fidezius handles the bass duties and Kay Lübke the drums. While not the center of the music, they both certainly help Vincent gather the energy needed to bring the numbers to life. However, the center is Vincent himself, a pianist who knows how to cover the keys from high to low, add modal and rhythmic variety, and propel the music with great flourishes and attacks.

While it is difficult to compare this trio to, say, the great standards trio of Keith Jarrett or the classic Bill Evans trio, Vincent certainly achieves a level of cohesion with his bandmates which deserves recognition. Key to this is his confident, muscular playing. Take for example his work on "Sweedad's Pastry," where he spanks the keys and hammers accents, or his effort on "Blues In Fink," where he adds Thelonious Monk-like blues lines outside the chords which establishes a head-nodding foot-tapping vibe.

Incorporated in the diverse program are a handful of ballads which show what Vincent can do when he takes it down a bit. Listen to his pastoral opening of "Carousel" or his graceful playing on "Every Moment Of Every Day." There is a subtle joy in his phrases, made possible by his quick and nimble fingers. Bassist Fidezius does more than just keep up with Vincent. While providing a sturdy walk to many of the numbers, his solos and his fingerings high up the neck of the bass, a technique he employs for emphasis, perfectly coincide with Vincent's efforts. And drummer Lubke establishes his bona fides with all-over drumming, rim shots, and work with the brushes and the bass pedal (check out "Well You Shouldn't"), providing a peppy rhythmic footing.

While this live set certainly delivers, one hopes to hear more from Simon Vincent's The Occasional Trio. At the very least, the music on Live In Berlin makes that imperative.

Track Listing

Blues In Fink; Tender Love; I Can See You Now; Well You Shouldn't; Sweedad's Pastry; Raindrops In June; Carousel; Prayer To The People And Unto The Land; Every Moment Of Every Day; Portsmouth Blue.

Personnel

Simon Vincent: Piano; Roland Fidezius: Bass; Kay Lübke: Drums.

Album information

Title: Live In Berlin | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Vision Of Sound

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