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.

| Record Label: Fantasy Jazz | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Flaga: Book of Angels, Volume 27" CD/LP/Track Review Flaga: Book of Angels, Volume 27
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 14, 2016
Read "Out Of The Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Out Of The Blue
by Tyran Grillo
Published: November 4, 2016
Read "Momentum" CD/LP/Track Review Momentum
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 18, 2016
Read "Dream Maps" CD/LP/Track Review Dream Maps
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 13, 2016
Read "Scott Hamilton / Harry Allen: live!" CD/LP/Track Review Scott Hamilton / Harry Allen: live!
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 9, 2016
Read "Negative Spaces" CD/LP/Track Review Negative Spaces
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 8, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!