All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

121

Keystone Trio: Newklear Music

Douglas Payne By

Sign in to view read count


Newklear Music is the second disc by this trio of pianist John Hicks, bassist George Mraz and drummer Idris Muhammad. The title, a pun on Sonny Rollins' nickname (which he earned in the 50s due to a likeness to famed Dodgers' pitcher Don Newcomb), suggests a dry tribute to the tenor sax great. But, as the subtitle, "The Songs Of Sonny Rollins," hints, this is something altogether different — and far more interesting.

First, although the inevitable "Airegin" is included, the trio refreshingly avoids the standard Rollins book. Lesser known material covered here includes "O.T.Y.O.G.," "Times Slimes," "Wynton" (a terrific feature for Mraz), "Here's To The People," "Tell Me You Love Me" (a good choice for the obligatory Calypso), "Silk 'n' Satin" and a Bill Evans take on "Kids Know."

Second, the trio digs deep inside these melodies and works from within to launch a synergy of reflective, reflexive exploration. Since they take on Rollins, "the composer," something unexpected happens. The listener concentrates on the astounding beauty and depth of complexity always present in Rollins' melodies. As Chip Stern's excellent liner notes aptly point out, "Rollins's emphasis as a soloist is primarily melodic and rhythmic. But for Hicks and the Keystone Trio, their focus seems to be in bringing the harmonies of the tune to the fore — placing more emphasis on the tunes themselves, than the exposition."

The result is a tremendous piano-trio date that is surprisingly reminiscent of Vince Guaraldi. Driven by Hicks' romantic personality and a genuine affection for this material (listen here for his beautiful ballad, "Love Note For Sonny"), Newklear Music offers the interactions of a first-rate trio exploring excellent material. Mraz is a wonderful and supple voice here and never once gives the impression of a being merely a rhythm instrumentalist. Idris Muhammad is a revelation. After years of funk drumming, he surprised many in the bands of Pharaoh Sanders and Randy Weston. While Rollins' work must tempt him to overstatement, his technique offers percussion that is simple, supportive and, often times, quite melodic. Recommended.


Title: Newklear Music | Year Released: 1997 | Record Label: Fantasy Jazz

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Orientation CD/LP/Track Review
Orientation
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Romaria CD/LP/Track Review
Romaria
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 18, 2018
Read You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl! CD/LP/Track Review
You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl!
by Jerome Wilson
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Autres Paysages CD/LP/Track Review
Autres Paysages
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Elvesang CD/LP/Track Review
Elvesang
by John Kelman
Published: February 17, 2018
Read Necessary Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Necessary Arrangements
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 17, 2018
Read "Upbeat And Sweet" CD/LP/Track Review Upbeat And Sweet
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 13, 2017
Read "Directions" CD/LP/Track Review Directions
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 15, 2017
Read "Planets + Persona" CD/LP/Track Review Planets + Persona
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 29, 2017
Read "Scarlett Roses" CD/LP/Track Review Scarlett Roses
by Doug Collette
Published: November 26, 2017
Read "Ancient Agents" CD/LP/Track Review Ancient Agents
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 28, 2017