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Relative simplicity and a complete lack of pretense are two features that make Music in Three Parts such a standout sound. The disc's six tunes are based on three different musical figures: the three "Improptus" on a figure in D minor; the two "Caprices" on a figure in C major; and the final "Epilog" on a figure in A flat major. The result is a alluring sound that mixes a mesmerizing melodic beauty with some of the finest trio interaction you'll hear this side of the best Bill Evans dates.
There must be a dozen relatively new-to-the-scene piano trios out there that get a lot a press andby jazz standardsa lot a record sales. Most of them show a lot of promise; none of them display the depth of feeling and intimacy, the implacable, finely focused vision or the assured delivery of Ron Thomas' trio on this set. This is the way a bass should be recorded: Paul Klinefelter's sound is big and assertive in its interactions with Thomas's piano ideas, with elasticity and bounce. Drummer Joe Mullen swings back and forth between complex, introspective textures and extrovertive pop, while Ron Thomas works out his effortlessly cerebralyet always approachablemelodic flow.
Thomas's last offering, the excellent House of Counted Days, had the feeling of the work of a musician who had let go of the of the hype and hustle of the music business to concentrate on his art. Music in Three Parts has that same feeling. Of course, without the hype and hustle, less records sell. And that, in this case, is a shame. The Ron Thomas Trio's Music in Three Parts should be groupedsomewhere near the top of the listwith the very best piano trio efforts of the year.