Moments In Trio Volume Three: Roads
represents the third trip around the sun for Yaniv Taubenhouse
's piano trio, featuring Rick Rosato
and Jerad Lippi
. It's also the group's most refined offering to date. Borrowing from the bold and confident spirit of Moments in Trio Volume One
(Fresh Sound New Talent, 2015) and reabsorbing the nimble interplay and lyrical subtleness that characterized the trio's second crack Moments in Trio Volume Two
(2018), this moment in trio combines the adventurous spirit of the earlier dates with a new found perspective, brought forth by meticulous performances all around. With sophistication and confidence, the three offer a fresh batch of inventive originals and a triplet of tasty standards to top it off.
One thing the last two Taubenhouse trio recordings had in common was their setlists being graced with a large majority of originals. The pianist's newest effort doesn't deviate from that path, and the music is all the better for it. From impressionist-romantic ballads like "Blue Forest" to light-footed flirtations with more deconstructed rhythmic and melodic games as demonstrated in "Sailing Over The Horizon," the leader proves to have developed into a state of the art composer, who's capable of paving a way forward without neglecting his musical heritage. That heritage, beyond the obligatory nod to the old bebop guard, having obvious ties to Brad Mehldau
's Art of The Trio
volumes as well as his work in general.
One might hear reflections of Mehldau's "Ode" (off of Ode
(Nonesuch, 2008) in the way "Prayer"'s changes gently build to complete a full circle while accompanied by a crescendoing percussive backdrop. A hint of Mehldau is also hidden in Taubenhouse's soloistic mannerisms, as showcased in the trio's patiently swinging take on Thelonious Monk
's "Boo Boo's Birthday" or Taubenhouse's 5/4- riddled version of "Star Eyes." When put into context and looked at as a whole though, it's safe to say that Taubenhouse has a unique approach to melody and composition of his own. He's also a pianist who, besides being endowed with special skill and discipline, profits from the charismatic voices of a longtime working band.
With Lippi, the pianist's band features the kind of drummer who seamlessly alternates tight beat-concentric patterns, like the ones dominating "Rush Hour Traffic," with traditional swing, as expertly featured in the trio's take on Cole Porter classic "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To." The latter piece exhibits him performing a rapid cymbal storm that dynamically swells and decays according to the tune's inner structure. Like Lippi, Taubenhouse adopts a stop-and-go strategy on keys, trading fleeting runs with tip-toing sequences in one moment and laying down gentle cadences in the next. Many instances spread across the program display similar agility and illustrate the players' impeccable chemistrysurely owed to many years of collaboration within a permanent lineup.
Generally treated to slightly more extensive runtimessix tracks reaching beyond or just under the eight-minute markthe group's elaborations give each player much room for deeper exploration of voice. Rosato's distinguished bass work especially profits from this enhanced space. He uses the opportunity for resourceful forays up and down the neck. Neither a thick and dominant foundation like Dave Holland
, nor the deconstructed experimentalist type in the vein of Gary Peacock
, Rosato's accompaniment rather takes on the elegant and versatile stride that contemporaries like Larry Grenadier
exhibit. And when he solos, he's melodically on point.
Unlike the customary trio approach however, with this formation solos don't start and stop in the obvious way, where the composition's head is introduced and the players subsequently alternate soloing over the template. Nor do Taubenhouse, Rosato or Lippi necessarily go at it alone. While that may be the case on some occasionsespecially with the more traditional cuts like Monk's "Boo Boo's Birthday"the three tend to prefer a collective approach to improvisation. One that prioritizes steady but simultaneous growth of arrangement over speed and mutual combination over individual showmanship. This is as evident in the opener "Blue Forest" as on breezy "Flow," which finds the three sharing the spotlight from beginning to end. One instrument will take over the reins, but that doesn't keep the others from altering their game, too and accompany at their own independent pace. An exercise in off-beat and polyrhythms, "Morning Night" carries the notion to the brim and finds the trio at its grooviest, with Rosato exhausting the entire breadth of his bass' neck.
Finally, pristine and bright attack paired with warm middle-frequency waves bring the production values to the fore, comprehensively tying this offering together. While Moments In Trio Volume Three: Roads
, like the Moments in Trio
volumes before it, was engineered by Robert L Smith, the album appears to make a stronger sonic impact compared to its predecessors. Taubenhouse agrees that Smith's role in this music shouldn't be underestimated when he mentions how "at this point, it almost feels like he's the 4th wheel of the band." Every band could profit from their own personal George Martin now and again...
Whatever Taubenhouse's future projects may entail, one can only hope this formation remains among them and that the pianist's trio can continue to push the envelope forward, build on their shared experience and carry on cultivating a language that's becoming more fluent with each album.
Blue Forest; Rush Hour Traffic; Prayer; You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To; Sailing Over the Horizon; Morning
Night; Boo Boo’s Birthday; Flow; Star Eyes; Roads.