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After an acclaimed and successful outing with their debut CD Trio West Plays Holiday Songs (Yummy House Records, 2006), Trio West is back with An Upper Westside Story, a recording that should bring them up front and center once again. Tobias Gebb (drummer, composer, arranger) has a knack for stimulating the progression of through-composed pieces with his arrangements. The trio as a collective gives a tune subtle shapes and dimensions that are shaped by a whim. The transition can be affecting and not without delight.
Trio West paints their own pictures with standards as well as The Beatles, who get a punctuated turn on "And I Love Her." Pianist Eldad Zvulun pays homage to the melody and stays in line while Gebb gives the beat an odd-meter. Zvulun moves out of the linearity of the tune with succulent phrases, the tangent resulting in a lovely reworking.
"Star-Crossed Lovers" shimmers in its balladry, but shifts on the quick pulse that Gebb introduces before it flashes away. Zvulun is next; he nudges the tempo forward and then draws it in, a circular tide that washes softly. Even as they flex the parameters and adjuncts, they do not lose the chord that makes the tune alluring. "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" starts with a funky bass groove from Neal Minor. Champian Fulton sings with a captivating verve, swinging and scatting with abandon. Swing is also the nook for Joel Frahm (tenor saxophone), who has a fine conversation with Fulton.
"The Barnyard" is another swinging tune. Frahm and Zvulun find flights of fancy in the sway, with Gebb and Miner laying down the pliant bottom. The raucous, pumping tune has an extension of sorts on a hidden track 13, where the chickens come home to roost. But leave that apart, and indulge in the rest of the music. It's engaging and fun.
Track Listing: Poinciana, what time is it?; Brasil Bela; The Barnyard; Star-Crossed Lovers; Autumn Serenade: Cute; WilíO the Wisp; What a Little Moonlight Can Do; Two by Two; How Deep Is the Ocean; The Monument (Soldiers and Sailors); And I Love Her.