Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

197

Ron Surace: Trio City 2: The Return of the Trio

Eric J. Iannelli By

Sign in to view read count
The title of this album, pianist Ron Surace's fourth for Chicago-centric Southport Records, sounds like a bad B-movie, a connotation Surace acknowledges with a grin: the cover art features the words digitally imposed on a downtown cinema marquee. And though it avoids the easy clichés and stiff performances found in a lot of second-rate cinema, the album is a Hollywood sequel to the first Trio City , released in late 2001, in more ways than one. Bassist Tatsu Aoki and drummer Dave Pavkovic not only re-join the bandleader, but they do so for another session of standards (plus two original charts). To put it another way, having done well the first time around, Surace et al. haven't deemed it wise or necessary to alter the formula.

Tackling straight-ahead standards for the second time might sit well with the Saturday night piano bar crowd, but it can be a recipe for disaster when dishing out the same fare to jazz listeners who have repeatedly heard these tunes deconstructed and reconstructed, demystified and re-mystified. What a welcome relief, then, that this trio gives such a fresh treatment to these familiar tunes.

Surace's style, technically and expressively, is very similar to that of Bill Evans, though in the past many critics have made an equally strong case for Erroll Garner. "Image," one of the Surace originals, and "Until the Real Thing Comes Along" are particularly Evans-like in the sense that he judiciously plucks clusters of notes from a larger melodic pool on the fly. Sometimes he draws these clusters out for simple examination; sometimes he bundles them together in arpeggiated rolls and chordal flourishes. It's neither minimalist nor impressionistic nor baroque, rather a seamless conflation of the three. Surace understands the art behind pause and hesitation (so did Sinatra and Monk; less gifted musicians tend toward calculated, stop-start, seasick motions), as he demonstrates on these two tracks as well as "I'm Beginning to See the Light," "Deed I Do" and "Cabin in the Sky." Like Brubeck, he also enjoys testing the elasticity of a phrase, often while mid-swing.

Pavkovic's brushwork on "Caravan"—most noticeable during his solo—is bell-clear and appropriately locomotive; Aoki's bass line is wriggling, snakelike. Together the rhythmic pair lay down the winding track on which Bill Evans' "Funkallero" runs. Caught up in the vitality and coherence of these performances, it would be easy to overlook the fact that the sound quality on Trio City 2 is utterly pristine.

Nitpicks? Trio City 2 is as long as Trio City. Seventy minutes. Concluding around "Sister Sadie" would still give listeners more than enough to enjoy and digest. But this seems to be complaining about too much of a good thing—"good" in this case being a criminal understatement.


Track Listing: I'm Beginning to See the Light; Caravan; Deed I Do; Image; Until the Real Thing Comes Along; Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams; My Foolish Heart; Softly As In a Morning Sunrise; Cabin in the Sky; Sister Sadie; Skylark; Funkalero; I'll Be Around; Here and Now.

Personnel: Ron Surace- piano; Tatsu Aoki- bass; Dave Pavkovic- drums.

Title: Trio City 2: The Return Of The Trio | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Southport Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Copenhagen Live 1964 CD/LP/Track Review Copenhagen Live 1964
by John Sharpe
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Somewhere Glimmer CD/LP/Track Review Somewhere Glimmer
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by John Sharpe
Published: December 14, 2017
Read I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert CD/LP/Track Review I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2017
Read "Hudson" CD/LP/Track Review Hudson
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 18, 2017
Read "Kind Of New 2: Blue Is Paris" CD/LP/Track Review Kind Of New 2: Blue Is Paris
by Jeff Winbush
Published: August 3, 2017
Read "Rumbler" CD/LP/Track Review Rumbler
by Paul Rauch
Published: January 2, 2017
Read "Tales & Tones" CD/LP/Track Review Tales & Tones
by Geannine Reid
Published: January 21, 2017
Read "Stolen Moments" CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 17, 2017
Read "Back To Your Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Back To Your Heart
by Jeff Winbush
Published: January 13, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!