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Chris Coyle: Phantasma Trio Vol. 1


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Chris Coyle: Phantasma Trio Vol. 1
Bassist and composer Chris Coyle is based in Philadelphia, and had previously issued three albums as leader which speak to his broad musical interests. Along with original pieces, he has covered a plethora of styles from re-imagined Duke Ellington to Middle Eastern hybrids. Coyle is also a member of the Relâche chamber ensemble which performs modern classical music. Phantasma Trio Vol. 1 is solidly rooted in the jazz tradition. Coyle brings in Mostly Other People Do the Killing pianist Ron Stabinsky (also with Relâche), and longtime collaborator Doug Hirlinger, on drums and electronics, who has played with Wayne Escoffery, Orrin Evans, Joel Frahm, Stanley Jordan, Rudresh Mahanthappa, and many other top artists.

Phantasma Trio Vol. 1 features nine Coyle originals with two additional tracks on the vinyl version. The album opens with "Reflections of Fog (I)," a concise, external piano narrative, accented by Hirlinger's unsettling stick work. Part II of that composition appears later in the program, more fully fleshed out,. The album begins to kick in with "Men of Steal"; the centerpiece of Phantasma Trio Vol. 1. Picking up on the dark theme of its precursor, it quickly explodes into a kinetic celebration. It is the first track in which we can fully appreciate Coyle's bass playing and the flawless interaction of the trio. "Refractions" finds Hirlinger reciting a passage written by Coyle. The music appropriately jumps and breaks like light through parallel planes. "Glacial Erratic," another gem on this album, is lifted by Stabinsky's delicate touch, and grounded with Coyle's deep, woody bass. On the languid "Ocean Time" Coyle takes up the bow supplying a meditative contrast to the shimmering piano. The appealing closing piece, "A New Ending For," migrates from lament to sonnet, to psalm.

Coyle is a gifted and diverse composer and plays in a style reminiscent of Darek Oles but with a distinct edge and authority. Stabinsky is the focal point of most of these pieces and, as he has demonstrated for some time, a world-class pianist. The remarkable dexterity and adaptability of Hirlinger weaves a consistent thread through all of these interesting pieces. The tracks on Phantasma Trio Vol. 1 sometimes fade out as if incomplete ideas. That is probably due to the pandemic conditions in which the album came together, and is a relatively small nit-pick about a fine album.

Track Listing

Reflections of Fog (I); Art in Person; Return to the Ocean; Men of Steal; Refractions; Glacial Erratic; Ocean Time; Reflections of Fog (II); A New Ending For.


Additional Instrumentation

Doug Hirlinger: electronics; Ron Stabinsky: electronics.

Album information

Title: Phantasma Trio Vol. 1 | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Passerine Records



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