Three young guys in suits. Piano trio with a "band" name. Canadian. All original compositions except for "C Jam Blues." Wait, "C Jam Blues"? What? No indie rock covers? Well, then there's no way these guys could be Canada's answer to The Bad Plus
. No electronics or sampling. Well, then Myriad 3 are not Canada's answer to EST
, either. Yet, fans could be forgiven for thinking about those two groundbreaking piano trios while listening to Myriad 3's engaging and thought-provoking debut recording Tell
. Like those bands, these guys are young, irreverent, and have a fresh approach to the modern jazz piano trio that respects the music's rich history without mindlessly wallowing in it.
Myriad 3 is a true co-operative. All three members share compositional duties, all three possess glittering conservatory-honed chops, and their music gives ample opportunities for each player to take the foreground. Pianist Chris Donnelly
is well-known to the Canadian jazz-listening public; he's recorded a couple of CDs as a leader which have earned him nominations for "Best Recording of the Year" and "Best Keyboardist of the Year" from the 2009 National Jazz Awards. Percussionist Ernesto Cervini
has also been quite active as a bandleader, recording artist and sideman. He recently released his third recording as a leader (There
, Anzic Records, 2011) to rave reviews. Bassist Dan Fortin
is a busy participant in the Toronto jazz scene who participated in the 2008 Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music.
"Myriad" is a pretty waltz with some countrified, bucolic leanings that get broken up by Cervini's unexpectedly explosive drumming. On his own Thelonious Monk-inflected piece, "Fractured," Cervini takes the opposite approach and plays the whole tune on a pandeiro
. Cervini's other tune, "Disturbing Inspiration," is divided into two parts. The first proceeds in fits and startseach succeeding section gaining more and more momentumafter opening with Donnelly's insistent single-note piano pulse. Fortin's bass brings in the second part, which quickly erupts into crazed, broken syncopations that constitute the theme, and frame hyperactive solos by the pianist and drummer. "Tell," penned by Fortin, is much prettier but is similarly unconventional. Starting with an almost funky asymmetric bass line, the piece briefly breaks open into a heraldic melody before ducking back into the original groove.
The trio nods to straight ahead jazz on "Mr. Awkward," and the album's only cover tune "C Jam Blues." The former has a whimsical, Chaplin- esque feel to it, while the latter is skilfully broken up into parts having different tempos and tonalities a bar or two after where one would expect such transitions to occur, as if a DJ were needle- dropping an album comprised entirely of different versions of the same tune. "For The Dreamers" is a ravishing moderate tempo piece that brings Herbie Hancock
's classic composition "Maiden Voyage" to mind, though the tricky metric modulations make tapping one's foot to it a challenge.Tell
has a restless creativity that is matched by the casual, near conversational, interplay between Cervini, Donnelly, and Fortin. Each of the tunes are like good short stories; easy to get into and once they're over, they don't leave one's consciousness easily. More than impressive, Myriad 3's debut CD is the work of three top-notch musicians who are uncannily in tune with one another.