It's no surprise that The Great Nostalgistby pianist Danny Fox and his trio has been released on Hot Cup, the label run by Mostly Other People Do The Killing's Moppa Elliott. It has the same quirky, off the beaten track quality as MOPDTK's recent piano trio CD, Paint, but in a drier, less madcap vein with a lot of angular melodies and references to other musical genres.
The compositions, all Fox originals arranged by the trio, go through several internal changes of feel and tempo. "Cookie Puss Prize" has Fox's up and down piano laying down a carpet of wandering childlike melodies at varying tempos as drummer Max Goldman kicks up a racket of bouncing cymbals and drums. "Truant" builds from the sort of tricky phrase Carla Bley used in her early compositions into a fully integrated session of running piano and turbulent bass and drums. "Fat Frog" brings in an infusion of jazz energy as Fox works in bits of stride and bebop over an agitated, quick-shifting rhythm with erratic bits of silence. "Caterpillar Serenade" is a pretty, trilling piano melody that sounds as if it could soundtrack the movements of a caterpillar from an old Walt Disney cartoon. Fox plays hordes of running notes here until eventually his playing gathers the mass and force of an old gospel hymn.
In other tunes like "Preamble" and "Adult Joe" the trio progresses in herky-jerky fashion through passages that resemble classical music and prog rock with Fox's repeating phrases, Chris van Voorst van Beest's rubbery bass and Goldman's nuanced drumming interlocking like a stream-of-consciousness version of The Bad Plus. Fox shows off his piano dexterity on "Emotional Baggage," darting and flying against rustling bass and drums as the tempo increases from dreamy to lightning fast. "Old Wash World" is tipsy repetition punctuated by silence and "Jewish Cowboy" is a relentless ride through Old West motifs with bits of swing and groove worked in and a trace of Aaron Copland's cowboy music in its bones.
This trio has a way of taking familiar musical ideas and stitching them together into unique new tapestries. There is little conventional jazz in their makeup, but they have an energy and surprise in their sound that makes them compelling listening. Pay attention to them.
Adult Joe; Theme For Gloomy Bear; Jewish Cowboy (The Real Josh Geller); Cookie Puss Prize; Truant; Caterpillar Serenade; Preamble; Fat Frog; Emotional Baggage Carousel; Old Wash World.
Danny Fox: piano; Chris van Voorst van Beest; Max Goldman: drums.
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