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Frank Harrison Trio: Sideways

Dan McClenaghan By

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After studying Boston's Berklee School of Music, pianist Frank Harrison returned to his native United Kingdom, making a name for himself as a sideman, most notably in saxophonist Gilad Atzmon's band. But beginning with First Light (Basho Records 2006), he has offered up three piano trio outings, each with different personnel. On Sideways Harrison is joined by bassist Davide Petrocca and drummer Stephen Keogh, band mates who can lay down an insistent groove or drift through the subtle permutations of a ballad with exquisite grace.

Harrison alternates his distinctive originals with familiar standards, opening with the much-covered "Autumn Leaves." This version invites comparison with Keith Jarrett's extended take from At the Blue Note: Saturday, June 4, 1994 First Set (ECM, 1995), a monumentally definitive 26-minute workout that might have scared a more fainthearted pianist away from getting anywhere near the time-tested Joseph Kosma standard. Harrison and his trio, though, give the tune an original twist, rolling from a prancing introduction to urgent propulsion with drums bustling insistently behind Harrison's sharp and incisive touch.

Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Dindi" opens with a steady heartbeat of bass splashed with the piano's delicate colorings before shifting into the relentless momentum of a speeding train, all without loosing a bit of the melody's beauty. George Gershwin's "How Long Has this Been Going On" gets a spacious and patient exploration, while the trio remolds the architecture of "You and the Night and the Music," taking the tempo into urgent territory.

Beginning with the solemn "One," Harrison's alternating originals compare well with the standards. "Flowing at Rest" is deliberate and tranquil while "Song for Roo" has a melody that is lovely and lilting; Harrison's notes float on a cloud over the gentle thunder rumble of a rhythm. The set closes with "The Riddle Song," a stately lullaby to wrap up an excellent piano trio outing.

Track Listing: Autumn Leaves; One; Dindi; Flowing at Rest; How Long Has This Been Going On?; Song for Roo; You and the Night and the Music; The Riddle Song.

Personnel: Frank Harrison: piano; Davide Petrocca: bass; Stephen Keogh: drums.

Title: Sideways | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Linus Entertainment

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