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Yago Vazquez/Scott Lee/Jeff Hirshfield: Stream

Budd Kopman By

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The "New Talent" on the very fine Fresh Sound New Talent release, Stream, is pianist Yago Vazquez, who hails from Spain, but who moved to NYC in 2008 to study at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music where he graduated with honors in 2010. His band mates in this cooperative piano trio are long time partners bassist Scott Lee and drummer Jeff Hirshfield, both of whom would be familiar to anyone who has followed saxophonist Loren Stillman.

While the piano quite naturally is out front in the trio and commands aural attention, the group's sound is highly cohesive. Lee is a very melodic bassist who manages to perform the functions of harmonic support and rhythmic propulsion while spinning out lines that are interesting in and of themselves. Hirshfield's drumming is usually understated and subtle, many times using brushes; his sound and rhythmic feel is additive rather than overtly propulsive.

The trio's music, mostly composed by Lee, but with three tunes by Vazquez and two collective improvisations, is a wonderful mix of shimmering beauty, playfulness and high intelligence. Given that there are fourteen tracks, most range between three and four minutes, with three coming in over five and the longest being seven minutes. The effect is one of listening to highly honed chamber jazz, where there is nothing extraneous.

Each track lives in its own mood and emotional universe, connected together by the band itself. There is always an inner intensity present, along with a seriousness of purpose which draws one in, demanding one's attention. This is not background music as it refuses to stay there.

Much of this expansive, almost vocal presence of the music must be attributed to Vazquez. His touch is elegant, as are his note choices and voicings, and yet there is an insistence and depth to every note, much like that of Marc Copland. Lee and Hirshfield have this same quality in their playing, making the whole more than the sum of its parts.

Stream is music to be savored many times over as it weaves its subtle spell. Outstanding.

Track Listing: Stream; On Your Own; F World; Nocturne; 456; Blue Country; Same But Different; Miniatura; New Old; Times Square; Missing One; Brake Tune; NoWhere; The Cloisters.

Personnel: Yago Vazquez: piano; Scott Lee: bass; Jeff Hirshfield: drums.

Title: Stream | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent

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