139

Ben Winkelman Trio: Odysseys

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Ben Winkelman Trio: Odysseys Something special is needed for a piano trio to make a splash these days, so crowded are the waters with talent. With Odysseys, however, pianist Ben Winkelman's trio manages just that. For seventy absorbing minutes, the trio captures the ear, providing thrilling evidence of a stellar contemporary trio to rank among the best. Australia's press has lavished praise on Winkelman since his debut Stomps, Pieces and Variations (Jazzhead, 2005), but the outside world has been slow to catch on.

In "The Seven Odyssey," Winkleman expresses more ideas in ten breathtaking minutes than many pianists do on an entire CD. The title refers to its 7/4 Cuban rhythm, but could almost refer to the number of different styles that flow from the pianist: Winkleman skips from hypnotic isorhythms to Afro-Carribean grooves, which then give way to jaunty ragtime figures; these, in turn, dissolve in fractured tempos and occasional playful dissonance, which hint subtly at the influence of pianist Thelonious Monk. European classical veins, of etude-like simplicity and elegance, also find their way into the mix.

It might sound like too many eggs in one basket, but there's a tremendous cohesion and natural flow to Winkleman's sweeping compositional imagination. Like a magician pulling a seemingly endless handkerchief from a pocket, Winkleman uncoils single-note lines of numerous colors in a surprisingly spare manner, given just how much is going on. Winkelman has highly attuned and empathetic partners in bassist Sam Anning and drummer Ben Vanderwal, whose crisp style is punctuated by myriad telling accents: huffing hi-hat; rim rhythms like tap dance; tambourine; wood block; and cowbell. Anning anchors the trio with quietly stated contrapuntal lines, coming into his own with lyrical statements on the episodic "Vampires," which evolves from a dark-toned mood piece to outright swing, and on the touching ballad, "Dislocation."

Dancing Brazilian rhythms and Winkleman's classical leanings happily coexist in the highly melodic "Quandaries," with Vanderwal's ride cymbal driving the trio. The drummer's brush work is exquisite on the unhurried, lyrical "Dislocation," and his light touch on the cymbals lends wonderful support and nuance to Winkelman's delicate musings.

The joyful, freewheeling "Stevie's Warm Chords" and impressionistic "Avian Melancholy" stand in sharp juxtaposition, underlining the great emotional range of this trio. Winkelman's flow of chords acts like little bridges between his arresting runs. The mere spark of an idea is fanned on "Steppin' To," and is a fascinating exercise in disciplined interplay. The 5/4 time of "The Five Odessey" closes out the album in as strong a fashion as it began, with Cuban chords patiently building tension before segueing into a delightful reggae groove, over which Winkelman and Anning trade back and forth playfully.

Odysseys succeeds on every level: melodious, with a healthy dose of dissonance; swinging, yet making elbow room for odd meters; alternatively grooving and melancholy; technically impressive; and always engaging. Winkelman's compositions strike a fine balance between structure and freedom, and this fine trio statement whets the appetite for what lies ahead.


Track Listing: The Seven Odyssey; Vampire; Quandaries; Dislocation; Symmetry; Stevie's Warm Chords; Avian Melancholy; Steppin' To; The Five Odyssey.

Personnel: Ben Winkelman: piano; Sam Anning: bass; Ben Vanderwal: drums.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Jazzhead (Australia)


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Some Other Time" CD/LP/Track Review Some Other Time
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 21, 2016
Read "Molto Bene" CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "One For Marian: Celebrating Marian McPartland" CD/LP/Track Review One For Marian: Celebrating Marian McPartland
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 5, 2016
Read "Conversations About Not Eating Meat" CD/LP/Track Review Conversations About Not Eating Meat
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 13, 2016
Read "Interstellar Space" CD/LP/Track Review Interstellar Space
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: May 29, 2016
Read "Books On Tape, Vol. 2 - Standard Edition" CD/LP/Track Review Books On Tape, Vol. 2 - Standard Edition
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

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!