In hindsight, the creation of OWL Trio seems to have been inevitable, but its participants still needed a little help to see what was staring them in the face all the while; bassist Orlando le Fleming, saxophonist Will Vinson and guitarist Lage Lund have been playing together in each others bands and in various other groupings since they met, yet it took the divine intervention of photographer-cum-record producer Jimmy Katz to bring them together as one on record.
The back story for this recording is short and simple, yet worth noting: Katz discovered a wonderful recording locationa former church in Brooklynwhile photographing guitarist Pat Metheny for the Orchestrion (Nonesuch, 2010) project. He wanted to use the space for recording, so he contacted these three musical mates who were all game to give it a go. They came together for a day in late May of 2011, played a bunch of standards and a few freely developed numbers, and Katz captured it all for posterity.
The majority of the pieces heard on the OWL Trio's self-titled debut are first or second takes; these guys rarely need more than one or two shots to make something magical happen. The chemistry, sensitivity and simpatico sensibilities exhibited by these three young men are evident at every turn. The music they create exhibits extreme focus and clarity but they still manage to expand the boundaries of the music at hand. Vinson's pure-toned saxophone, Lund's clean-yet-cushy chords and single notes, and le Fleming's grounding-and-moving bass make for a winning combination.
Intimacy is ever in the air, whether this unit is exploring Duke Ellington in charming fashion ("Morning Glory"), taking a mellow and semi-bleak look at guitarist Jim Hall's music ("All Across The City") or flirting with the unknown ("Hallow"). Highlights include a rendition of John Coltrane's rarely-covered "Dear Lord" that's pure and purposeful, a "Sweet And Lovely" that lives up to its name, and a "From This Moment On" that features some of Lund's most intriguing solo lines.
OWL Trio is one of those records that finds power in quiet expression, not raised volume or aggression. Lund, Vinson and le Fleming make for an absorbing combination.
Morning Glory; All Across The City; I Should Care; Hallow; Dear Lord; Yesterdays;
Churchgoing; Sweet And Lovely; From This Moment On; Blues For Jimmy; Moonstone.
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