Myriad3the Toronto-based trio of pianist Chris Donnelly, bassist Dan Fortin, and drummer Ernesto Cervinimay be the most noteworthy small group to emerge from Canada in years. Tell (Alma, 2013) introduced the band to the world, marking Myriad3 as an outfit with a post-modern outlook, respect for the traditions of this music, and the smarts not to let that respect get in the way of what it set out to do.
Audacity, assurance, and the spirit of cooperation shine through on Myriad3's mind-blowing sophomore release. This band can do just about anythingand do it really wellbut there's no arrogance or showboating here. Much of this music is built around quick and dynamic shifts, surprising twists, sectioned off passages, and a willingness to get one's hands dirty. The album opens on the chiming piano chords and layered development of "First Flight," but light-to-heavy adjustments, declamatory statements, throbbing bass, and more come further down the road; this song is the first indication that a welcome case of multiple personality disorder may be at work here.
Development, perhaps more than anything, seems to be on the mind of these three men. Myriad3 works with kaleidoscopic movements, creating soothing music box sounds that start to doubt and question themself ("Little Lentil"), delivering a powerful and angular miniature enhanced by Cervini's horn overdubs ("Der Trockner"), and allowing lyrical and semi-elegiac tones in a formalist framework to evolve into something more powerful ("The Strong One"). Elsewhere, mystery and suspense prevail in a loose environment ("Don't You Think"), aggression wins out ("Brown"), and tongues are planted firmly in cheeks with a nod to Monk ("Bebop Medley").
Much is often written about what's wrong with jazz today, but better to focus on bands like Myriad3 and albums like The Where: both serve as strong reminders about what's right with jazz in the post-millennial epoch.
Track Listing: First Flight; Undertow; The Strong One; Bebop Medley; The Where; Little Lentil; Brown;
For All The World; Der Trockner; Don't You Think.
Personnel: Chris Donnelly; piano, synthesizer; Dan Fortin: upright bass, electric bass, synthesizer;
Ernesto Cervini: drums, percussion, winds.