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Tree-O, a Ryan Burns-led piano trio affair, caught me by surprise. I was already familiar with Burns' work with Matt Jorgensen + 451 on the CD Hope (Origin Records, '04) and an excellent live show with that group at Dizzy's in San Diego, so I thought this effort would fall into the forward-lean/electric keyboard category. But it's an acoustic set, a genuine tip of the hat to the piano trio's past.
The opener, "Gettin' Red-y (for Red Garland)," sets the mood. Red Garland was Miles Davis' pianist of choice in his first great quintet, with John Coltrane, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. Garland had a light touch, a sparkle that's evident here in Ryan Burns' hands. Also evident is the trio's chemistry. Burns, bassist Geoff Cooke and drummer Jose Martinez have played together for a decade, and their sympatico shows, with a much more interactive and modern approach than what's on Red Garlard's '50s trio outings.
"Ring the Bells," another Burns original, addresses the Miles Davis first great quintet vehicle "If I Were a Bell," with that familiar eight-note chime leading into a relaxed bounce of a rhythm behind a pretty melody. "Down in Denver" and "Boca De Tomatlan," both written by bassist Geoff Cooke, have darker tones than the Burns-penned tunes, with more of a modernistic, foreboding lean.
"Ibra-Hymn," a nod to Abdullah Ibrahim, closes the set with a South African rhythmic feeling and a sense of serene spirituality, wrapping up this top-notch piano trio disc with style and reverence.
Track Listing: Gettin' Red-y (for Red Garland); Ring the Bells; Down in Denver; Entomology; Boca De Tomatlan; Freedom of Commitment; Ibra-Hymn.
Personnel: Ryan Burns: piano; Geoff Cooke: bass; Jose Martinez: drums.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.