Drummer/composer Reuben Hoch was born in Brooklyn, New York at about the same time that Miles Davis was putting the final touches on Kind of Blue
across the bridge at Columbia Studios. As an Orthodox Jew, he attended Jewish parochial schools and graduated from Yeshiva University; he also prayed in the various Chassidic synogogues in Brooklyn.
By his teens, Hoch was immersed in the world of jazz, in particular citing the influence of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, and became engaged in playing and recording with several Blakey alumni, such as Valerie Ponomaerov and Dave Liebman. He recorded several albums with his group The RH Factor (not the current Roy Hargrove group) and then created the Chassidic Jazz Project, which peformed a combination of jazz, chamber and world music.
The title of Of Recent Time is a reference to the the group (Time), as well as the importance of Hoch's role as a musical timekeeper. He selected familiar jazz players for the date: pianist Don Friedman and bassist Ed Schuller. Friedman, originally a West Coast pianist in the late 1950s, moved to New York and became a labelmate of Bill Evans during the early 1960s, with three Riverside albums. He's been recording consistently for a variety of labels since and remains an underappreciated jazz pianist. Ed Schuller is the son of conductor/composer and musician Gunther Schuller, one of the architects of the Third Stream Movement circa 1960. Ed Schuller is a popular first-call bassist who has recorded on a mulititude of sessions as a sideman, as well as six albums as a leader.
In his liner notes, Reuben Hoch indicates his preference for the piano trio format as a means to allow the musicians to explore music via intimate conversations. His reference point for this lies within the work of the trios of Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau and others. That is exactly what I'm hearing on this album, in particular with the piano work. In fact, I constantly had to force myself to pay attention to the other trio members.
Other than a single original and a Don Friedman composition, Hoch has selected tunes from Pat Metheny, Wayne Shorter, Ornette Coleman, Brad Mehldau, Sam Rivers and Steve Kuhn. The compositions are not overly familiar and, consequently, fresh. Hoch is not a drummer who makes his presence known through solos or increased volume. His forte appears to be technique. For example, on Metheny's "Question and Answer," Hoch supplies a variety of shades via fills and polyrhythms, and this sort of textural approach can be heard throughout Of Recent Time. On Friedman's "Flatlands," Schuller takes a long bass solo and scats along with it, producing a pleasing and unique moment.