Norwegian bassist Per Mathisen (aka "The Bass Viking") leads an exciting, empathetic, virtuosic fusion jazz trio on Sounds Of 3. This is a modern electric trio in the same vein as bassist Jonas Hellborg's trio with guitarist Shawn Lane and drummer Jeff Sipe, guitarist Alex Machacek's trio with 5-string electric bassist Matthew Garrison (and Sipe again), or the current Jeff Sipe Trio with Mike Seal & Taylor Lee. Mathisen composed all of the music, with the exception of an arrangement of French composer Gabriel Fauré's famous "Pavane."
I'll confess to never having heard of any of these musicians before, but they are absolutely world-class players. Norwegian guitarist Frode Alnæs has had a diverse career in jazz and pop, including appearances on ECM recordings with Masqualero and Arild Andersen. He provides blazing fusion solos and atmospheric textures with equal facility. Cuban drummer Giraldo Piloto is known for his salsa playing with his group Klimax. His playing playing here is full of energy and virtuosity.
Striking as the group members are individually, their democratic group interaction is even more noteworthy. Lesser players might feel the need to show off their chops all the time, but not these guys. They give each other all the space they need. Piloto gets a flashy drum solo to open "Rabbagast II," but on the funk tune "Kick Ab Shuffle" he drops back to basic accompaniment to back Mathisen's bass solo at the end. Alnæs provides both pensive solo guitar and atmospheric accompaniment on the ballad "Maestro H. Sunde." The Fauré arrangement begins with a free bass solo around the main theme, then the band plays variations on the two main themes of the piece.
"Skumringstimen" also features a long, lyrical bass solo, demonstrating the leader's ability to make his bass sing as well as groove. "Rumbamania" is a kind of hyper rhumba, the only place Piloto gets to demonstrate some of his rhythmic specialty. He sounds great as a fusion drummer, but it's a shame he didn't get more opportunity to play a Latin feel. "Travelin' Man" is a contrasting closer, a "vocal" tune featuring Mathisen "singing" through a vocoder. The result is an arty pop-rock tune reminiscent of guitarist Steve Hackett's solo work outside of his old band Genesis. A fun wrap up to an album sure to appeal to fusion fans who follow the Abstract Logix catalog.
The C Sharp Man; Rabbagast II; Maestro H. Sunde; Kick Ab Shuffle; Pavane; Skumringstimen; Rumbamania; Travellin´ Man.
Per Mathisen: acoustic and electric basses, vocoder; Frode Alnæs: electric guitar;
Giraldo Piloto: drums.
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