All of the compositions on Time Being are by pianist Derwyn Holder, and the album is most appropriately named, as he uses time and space like a master architect within an always compelling musical framework. Holder approaches Jazz from a classical perspective, as do Terry and Naspo, and their collaboration has produced a session of understated “chamber Jazz” that is as ingenious as it is ingratiating. Holder keeps the listener off–balance by never quite taking a melody where one expects it to go; and yet each of his digressions is both logical and persuasive. The approach is often Monkish but without Monk’s conspicuous fondness for the blues. These aren’t songs that one would be inclined to hum afterward, and it’s hard to imagine a nightclub audience, for example, tempering its usual chatter to listen to them. Time Being requires one’s undivided and serious attention, and given that, has much to offer. The trio works extremely well together, and Naspo is a remarkably effective time–keeper, always alert but never intrusive. Terry, who plays alto on most selections (soprano on “Positive Macksimum,” flute on “Carla”), has a pure, burnished sound on each instrument, with the alto in particular imparting occasional glimpses of her classical breeding. Technically, nothing seems beyond her reach, and her improvisations are consistently sharp and persuasive, an observation that applies as well to Holder and Naspo. Monk’s influence surfaces repeatedly in Holder’s solos and quirky but good–humored comping, not to mention his charmingly off–center compositions, which are difficult for a non–musician such as I to describe with any degree of accuracy or substance. What I can say is that they swing, albeit gently, and are quite listenable (in other words, there’s always a discernible melody, and the music never drifts into that nether region commonly referred to by this writer as “avant–garbage”). Time Being isn’t for everyone, but is warmly recommended to the more adventurous and open–minded listener.
Track listing: Exemplary Example of Exemplitude; Mr. Iconoclast; Bebop Princess; Positive Macksimum; Time Being; Logical Absurdity; Illusion of Delusion; Carla; Blues Montreal; She; California Song; Shanti (59:22).
Derwyn Holder, piano, composer; Sue Terry, alto and soprano saxophone, flute; Ron Naspo, bass.