A New York City jazz scene regular, the trumpeter and flugelhorn player Brian Groder returns with the trio that helped make Reflexology (Latham Records, 2014) such a highly satisfying recording. Bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Jay Rosen are well-suited to supporting Groder's flexible, energetic and probing objectives. Following their previous work together, their mutual empathy of free-form approaches, combined with uncompromising melodies, the trio has proven to be an ambitious unit with a truly different sound.
The titleR Train on the D Lineimplies not just a transference but also a partial disregard for rigid institutional structures. These leading improvisers work around concepts that Groder, a meticulous composer, painstakingly develops over time; that he allows such a free exchange of ideas in the readings of his pieces belies the nature of his planning process. Taken together, these elements create a unique ecosystem where consistency and spontaneity coexist.
A spirited "Quanta" opens the album; Groder's clear, crisp style drawing away from the plump percussive effect of Bisio's bass. These kinds of contrasts are endemic in Groder's arrangementsfar from a free-for-all, the individual improvisations often differ in the players abilities to take their instruments beyond their customary nature. "Retooled Logic," driven by Rosen's sophisticated use of multiple patterns, has a swing element made distinctive by Groder's individualistic style. On "Drawing In To Pull Away," Rosen again replies to Groder and Bisio's various explorations with targeted rhythmic responses. Whether on the assertive "Praxis" or the substantially darker "Whispering Sigh," the trio maintains a austere backdrop that allows their interplay to really stand out.
Throughout his career, Groder has created idiosyncratic compositions that are both challenging and accessible. He writes with a literary type of intelligence and a virtuosic understanding of instrumentation. The work that this trio has produced is an unusual amalgam of tradition, free improvisation and minimalism. Even in the silences, there is nothing wasted here. One would hope that R Train on the D Line generates more attention for Groder, who has inexplicably flown too far under the radar despite his long being one of the finest composers and musicians on the New York scene. After two fine recordings, Bisio and Rosen's work with Groder has clearly proven this trio to be one with even greater potential.
Quanta; Retooled Logic; Drawing In To Pull Away; Isolating The Why; Praxis; Asterix; Whispering Sigh; Keel.
Brian Groder: trumpet and flugelhorn; Michael Bisio: bass; Jay Rosen: drums.