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ALBUM REVIEW

Upper Left Trio: Ulternative

Read "Ulternative" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Portland, Oregon's Upper Left Trio has been together nearly a decade. The group began its recording journey on Origin Records in 2003 with Cycling. Ulternative is the trio's fourth recording for the label, and continues to push its music forward.The piano trio has, since pianist Bill Evans' late 1950s/early 1960s recordings with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian, ridden the three-way interaction approach rather than the earlier mode of operation, with pianist supported by the band mates' ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Upper Left Trio: Three

Read "Three" reviewed by John Barron

Occasionally, in the midst of media-hyped young lions re-creating and staking claim to past innovations, a jazz recording will emerge that nurtures the essence of tradition with openness and candor. Such engaging qualities can be heard on Three, the third release from Portland, Oregon's Upper Left Trio, featuring pianist Clay Giberson, drummer Charlie Doggett and bassist Jeff Leonard.

Three is characterized by unabashed improvised intensity smoothed over with moments of serene lyricism. Giberson, a dynamic soloist, leads the way with ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Upper Left Trio: Sell Your Soul Side

Read "Sell Your Soul Side" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Comparisons fly all over the place when writers try to describe the sound of an emerging pianist and his trio. From the percussive side the newcomer might get paired with Bud Powell, to use a past master, or McCoy Tyner, if we're going with a current player. On the other side of the spectrum there seem to be a lot of “young Bill Evanses" out there, a bunch of guys who fall into the Brad Mehldau/Fred Hersch camp. But in ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Upper Left Trio: Cycling

Read "Cycling" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

It would be too easy to pigeonhole the Upper Left Trio as a Bad Plus wannabe. Doing so would certainly be inaccurate, as the Upper Left Trio exists at approximately the midpoint between the Oscar Peterson Trio and Medeski, Martin, and Wood. The band’s debut recording, Cycling, consists of 10 well-crafted original piano trio compositions that fall conservatively well short of the Bad Plus, producing a record that will not boast the band being the loudest jazz piano trio. The ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Upper Left Trio: Cycling

Read "Cycling" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

It's hard to put the finger on what makes for a successful piano trio set. Some of jazz's bona fide great keyboard players turn in less than inspired efforts, sets that just don't hold the listener's interest for the duration of an hour of music. It's probably the worst critism that can be made of a recording – that it just doesn't hold interest. And the piano trio format can be particularly unforgiving.And having said that, the other ...


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