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A sense of restraint pervades this whole programme of piano trio music, and it works to make it less compelling, especially when the underlying approach is oblique both harmonically and rhythmically.
On one level the trio seems to be trying to make maximum use of minimum material. While this approach can result in music that demands attention, the results here just seem to hang in the air. On "Coincidence," the three musicians seem intent on avoiding emphatic interplay and the kind of sleight-of-hand interaction that would make for compelling listening.
On "Versunkene Stadt" Friedrich fingers his keys in the intro like a man whose sole ambition is to recreate the archetypal ECM sound from a time when that label was better known for the antiseptic quality of its recordings than the inherent value of the music it was putting out.
"Karusell" drifts by in an arrhythmic vein, although on this occasion matters seem just a little worse, as the group seems to be working as three individuals who just happened to be in the same room. When drummer Tony Moreno breaks out into a restrained backbeat for no more than a few bars, the proceedings sink into near-incoherence.
In a way this is all a real shame. It's not difficult to imagine how someone like Paul Bley would make all sorts of moves over "Velvet," and while Friedrich puts in his most telling work of the disc on this one, he simply doesn't have that master's depth of personality or individuality.
Overall this could just about amount to a logical conclusion to the developments in the piano trio format that Bill Evans first flagged up over forty years ago. Such speculation seems less than constructive, however, especially when this trio loses so much by any such comparison.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.