The Joe Policastro Trio is a working band that has been playing together in Chicago area clubs for almost ten years. This CD reflects that history in how the three musicians play off each others' twists and turns with a near-telepathic rapport. Guitarist Dave Miller darts and swoops with cool assurance while bassist Policastro and drummer Mikel Avery keep the rhythms sounding relaxed and natural even when abruptly switching tempos within songs.
The set consists mostly of Policastro originals. "Oceans Of Notions" and "Speak Slow(ly)" are slippery jazz lines. On "Oceans" Miller picks boppish lines and chords over a beat that alternates between sharp attacks and supple walking. "Slow(ly)" is a flashier tune where Miller shows his nimble jazz chops and Policastro and Avery also get short solo turns. On "In The Quiet" and "Plain Song" Miller's playing is a slower John Scofield-like mix of backwoods picking and soul riffing. "Quiet" just drifts along like a laidback jam, but on "Plain Song" the bass and drums set up a stiffer rhythm. Miller's licks flow effortlessly, moving between soul, country and rock with a sweet, tangled sound. The entire trio works with ease and precision, even making an assured left turn into reggae when Policastro solos. "Bloodshot" is a dirtier blues/jazz line sporting a heavy bass sound, a loping r'n'b groove and flashy jazz roadhouse licks.
The three cover songs are an interesting mix. Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire" is taken at a fast cruising tempo. Miller spits out the theme in his best country twang over a rattling beat before exploding into hard rock riffing. Meanwhile Policastro takes a nimble-fingered bass solo that turns into a dub-flavored reggae interlude. "The Wandering Sea," by Santo and Johnny of "Sleepwalk" fame, romps along over a bumpy African rhythm. Policastro does the melody pizzicato before Miller takes over, steering the trio into hard rock territory. He rips into his loudest and most distorted playing of the set, working squiggly variations on the melody as Policastro and Avery hang on for dear life. In contrast, Talking Heads' "This Must Be The Place" chips along quietly at a brisk tempo with Miller's guitar flinty and elastic over a low, simmering beat.
Miller's swaggering guitar and Policastro's and Avery's tight, nimble rhythms fit together nicely. The trio mixes jazz, rock, country and soul together into a seamless blend of energetic music that happily crashes through any genre or style barriers they encounter.
I'm On Fire; Speak Slow(ly); Bloodshot; In The Quiet; The Wandering Sea; Oceans Of Notions; No Idea; Plain
Song; This Must Be
The Place (Naive Melody).
Joe Policastro: bass; Dave Miller: guitar; Mikel Avery: drums.