Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

244

Sam Yahel Trio: New York, NY, July 17, 2011

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Sam Yahel Trio
The Village Vanguard
New York, NY
July 17, 2011
The world has changed in numerous and startling ways since pianist Bill Evans recorded Sunday At The Village Vanguard (Riverside, 1961) a half century ago, but two things remain as consistent as the rising and setting of the sun: The Village Vanguard still presents the best that jazz has to offer, and boundary-pushing piano trios are still an important part of the mix that they choose to present.
While pianist Sam Yahel's trio travels a path that's far different from that of Evans, with a busier, post-modern musical mandate at work, both outfits share a belief in the possibility of high-level communication, developed through group interplay. This similarity was clearly evident throughout Yahel's thrilling and challenging opening set on the last night of his weeklong run.
Yahel made his name as a risk-taking organist who could move from funky to far-out without blinking an eye, and many of these traits transfer over into his piano playing. The trio of Yahel, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Jochen Rueckert hit the stage with a collection of tunes from Yahel's forthcoming From Sun To Sun (Origin, 2011), and the music was bold, yet balanced. While this trio was just beginning to come together as one on Hometown (Posi-Tone, 2009), they've since become a three-headed, singular musical entity.

The show opened with "2 Pilgrims," which featured some semi-free play nestled between more stable musical bookends, but the set really took flight with Yahel's delightfully disjointed trip through "Taking A Chance On Love." Yahel played off of—and against—the rhythm section, and they pushed back, creating an avalanche of potent swing. While the group dynamic proved to be a key part of this piece, the trio upped the ante when it began to pass around bite-sized, four-bar solos near the conclusion of the song. "A Beautiful Friendship," which was the second of three standards in the set, began in ballad form, but quickly branched out into other directions. Rueckert's brushwork underscored the semi-serene sections of music that bookended the piece, and his playing was equally important when the music moved into swing, and then pseudo-gospel.

While the three opening numbers laid the stylistic groundwork for this trio, the pieces that followed were the most memorable. A sing-song left hand riff and an easily appealing right hand line launched Yahel's "Toy Balloon," which sounded like a meeting between a less-showy-than-normal Jacky Terrasson, Vince Guaraldi, and Aaron Goldberg, while frisky rhythms and fractured phrases were at the heart of "From Sun To Sun," which featured some of Penman's finest solo work in the set.

Cole Porter's "So In Love" gave the trio a chance to fly in up-tempo swing-style, but Yahel didn't dwell on that, or any other style, as the set neared its end. The churchy "Git It" served as the final tune of the set, and the background for Yahel's closing remarks, and his joyous tremolos, woozy statements and gospel-inspired lines helped to complete the picture of what this well-rounded trio is all about.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2017 Live Reviews Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2017
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Jazztopad Festival 2017 Live Reviews Jazztopad Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below Live Reviews Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Henry Threadgill at Tilton Gallery Live Reviews Henry Threadgill at Tilton Gallery
by Kurt Gottschalk
Published: December 10, 2017
Read The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace Live Reviews The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace
by Doug Collette
Published: December 10, 2017
Read Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre Live Reviews Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre
by Walter Atkins
Published: December 8, 2017
Read "The Stanley Clarke Band At Kuumbwa Jazz Center" Live Reviews The Stanley Clarke Band At Kuumbwa Jazz Center
by Walter Atkins
Published: July 3, 2017
Read "Jazz em Agosto 2017" Live Reviews Jazz em Agosto 2017
by Mike Chamberlain
Published: August 16, 2017
Read "Like A Jazz Machine 2017" Live Reviews Like A Jazz Machine 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 4, 2017
Read "The Specials at Higher Ground" Live Reviews The Specials at Higher Ground
by Doug Collette
Published: July 2, 2017
Read "Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2017" Live Reviews Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2017
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 15, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!