293

Robert Mitchell 3io: The Greater Good

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Robert Mitchell 3io: The Greater Good The Greater Good was declared the "Best Jazz Album of 2009" by influential British DJ Gilles Peterson. At a time when piano trios seem to be enjoying a resurgence such an accolade might be hard to live up to in the face of some stiff competition, but this album's combination of original tunes, inspired covers, and fine musicianship makes it a worthy award winner.

Although pianist Robert Mitchell has been around the British jazz scene for some years, leading Panacea and working as a duo with violinist Omar Puente for example, this is his first trio album. Mitchell is a thoughtful, almost introspective, musician with an academic training in classical music at London's City University and a wide range of experience across different styles of jazz. His playing is lyrical and spacious—displays of technique are always secondary to emotional connection—and in a trio setting this approach offers plenty of chances for other musicians to shine. Bassist Tom Mason and drummer Richard Spaven take those chances and demonstrate the 3io's strength as an ensemble.

All of the musicians contribute tunes to the album, although Mitchell takes the lion's share. His 5 compositions are characterised by a reflective quality: "Cumulus" combines piano and bass to create a real evocation of the movement of such cloud formations, while "The Blessing" is a particularly beautiful track, with Mitchell displaying a light and economical touch throughout.

Spaven's contribution, "Greater Good," is co-written with Dutch musician Vincent Helbers. As well as giving Mitchell the inspiration for the album's title the track also closes the album in style, with the broken, spiky, rhythm of the drums and bass moving the tune along while Mitchell plays with a harder edge than usual.

Of the three covers, Massive Attack's "Teardrop"—from Mezzanine (Virgin, 1998)—is the most familiar and the most immediate. Mason is the standout performer on this track, taking on the vocal melody line of the original by firstly plucking the strings of the bass then by bowing them. In the final minute Mason plays in the upper register of the bass, creating an at times disquieting sound to draw the tune to a close. The 3io also performs Wayne Shorter's "Dance Cadaverous"—from Speak No Evil (Blue Note, 1965). It's taken at a similar tempo to the original, but Spaven and Mason give it an urgency and drive that contrasts with the more laid back rhythm of Shorter's version.

This album displays an array of talents: musicianship, compositional ability, and a knack for selecting and arranging out of the ordinary but inspired covers give the band plenty to build on for the future. The Greater Good is a confident and mature album and it will hopefully be the first of many recordings by the Robert Mitchell 3io.

Track Listing: Cumulus; A Map of the Sky; Dance Cadaverous; Quantum; Space; Ochre; Crystal Eyes; Teardrop; The Blessing; Greater Good.

Personnel: Robert Mitchell: piano; Tom Mason: bass; Richard Spaven: drums.

Year Released: 2009 | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop

More Articles

Read This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People CD/LP/Track Review This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Nigerian Spirit CD/LP/Track Review Nigerian Spirit
by James Nadal
Published: May 29, 2017
Read The Colours Suite CD/LP/Track Review The Colours Suite
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Les Liasons Dangereuses 1960 CD/LP/Track Review Les Liasons Dangereuses 1960
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Chapter Five CD/LP/Track Review Chapter Five
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 28, 2017
Read The Hive CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "The New Breed" CD/LP/Track Review The New Breed
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 4, 2016
Read "Beauty Within" CD/LP/Track Review Beauty Within
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 3, 2016
Read "Transparent Water" CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Ugly Beautiful" CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beautiful
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 6, 2017
Read "Heavy Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Heavy Dance
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: March 14, 2017
Read "Holiday On Fire" CD/LP/Track Review Holiday On Fire
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 27, 2017

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!