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Max Johnson Trio: The Invisible Trio

Eyal Hareuveni By

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The sophomore release of New York-based Max Johnson, after Elevated Vegetation (FMR 2012), finds this highly versatile acoustic trio focusing more on written compositions and less on free improvisation. The trio—Johnson on double bass, prolific Kirk Knuffke on cornet and Ziv Ravitz on the drums—enjoys stretching Johnson's compositions in surprising ways.

Knuffke expands, disintegrates and re- structures Johnson's harmonic ideas in an expressive and imaginative manner, adapting himself to the shifting pulse of resourceful Ravitz and loose timekeeping colors of Johnson, who often uses his bow. All create an open, delicate balance where all play lead roles and receive equal solo time.

The trio's tight, collaborative interplay is highly dynamic and alternates organically, according to the temperament of the piece—minimalist and explicit on "Bizza," dense and nervous on "Held for Questioning," rhythmically driving on "Don Wrinkles," soft and gentle on the the title-piece ballad and beautiful, bluesy "A Pair of Glasses," where Johnson and Knuffke complete each other's melodic ideas, or urgent and aggressive on "Moving Vehicle." The last piece, "The Golem" is exceptional in this album's context due to a clear, dramatic, almost cinematic narrative nuanced with Johnson's restless pizzicato playing and the fractured outbursts of Knuffke and Ravitz.

An impressive, highly articulate trio.

Track Listing: The Pretzel; Bizza; Held for Questioning; Don Wrinkles; The Invisible Trio; Moving Vehicle; A Pair of Glasses; The Golem.

Personnel: Kirk Knuffke: cornet; Max Johnson: double bass; Ziv Ravitz: drums.

Title: The Invisible Trio | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent

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