174

Andy Biskin: Trio Tragico

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Andy Biskin: Trio Tragico Released in tandem with Early American (an exploration of the music of Stephen Foster), Trio Tragico showcases clarinetist Andy Biskin working within the confines of an unconventional chamber-jazz trio. With characteristic wit, the composer delivers an album that is not nearly as melodramatic as the title implies.

Biskin enjoys a sublime foil in the rich and classically pure trumpet of Dave Ballou. Ubiquitous Downtown bassist Drew Gress is the fulcrum on which the two horn players pivot. With no drummer present, his lines support not only the pulse, but the principal melody and implied harmonies as well.

A mercurial writer and economical improviser, Biskin's sense of humor seeps into his music in subtle ways. While the trio occasionally flirts with melancholy, it never sounds morose. Embracing postmodern irony, but without the cool detached attitude, Biskin and company plot a lyrically poignant course that's unfettered by stylistic conventions.

"Boomerang" opens the album with a solemn refrain, recalling an Old World dirge by blending mournful clarinet, somber trumpet and plangent bowed bass. Suddenly, the tune comes alive; the bass bounds into a brisk walking pattern, launching a jubilant clarinet flight, followed by an equally ebullient trumpet solo. The horns weave a sonorous web, accompanying each other throughout, and Gress takes a brief statement before the collective finish.

The baroque-inspired composition "Over The Years" follows a similarly whimsical strategy. Biskin maintains straight-laced classicism, intermittently inserting searing Yiddish doina laments, then just as abruptly returning to the formal structure.

The trio generates more than just pleasant melodies; compare the rich harmonies of "Hey Day" to the folksy, see-saw jauntiness of "Walking Distance," with its fractured lullaby ambience. The infectious "Paging Mr. Yes," while outwardly reminiscent of an early two-step, employs shades of an impulsive, Ivesian nature. Biskin's pieces are enigmatic but always accessible, from the gorgeous balladry and Middle Eastern flourishes of "I Should Talk" to sprightly bop pieces such as "I Think Not" and "Plaything."

The trio blends subtle improvisation and nuanced group interaction so seamlessly into Biskin's compositions that the dividing line between the two vanishes. With creative arrangements and stellar interplay, Trio Tragico invokes a broad sonic palette, bringing these enchanting pieces to life. Whether exploring tangos, marches, Dixieland, bebop or any number of early American song forms, Biskin's trio handles it all with respect and good humor.


Track Listing: Boomerang; I Should Talk; Hey Day; Walking Distance; I Think Not; You That Knew Him; Paging Mr. Yes; Night Shade; Over The years; Top Left Corner; Still Busy (The Honk Honk Song); You Who; Plaything.

Personnel: Andy Biskin: clarinet, bass clarinet; Dave Ballou: trumpet; Drew Gress: bass.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Strudelmedia | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Nwayo" CD/LP/Track Review Nwayo
by James Nadal
Published: June 24, 2016
Read "As The Wind" CD/LP/Track Review As The Wind
by John Eyles
Published: January 12, 2017
Read "One" CD/LP/Track Review One
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 21, 2016
Read "Live In Greenwich Village" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Greenwich Village
by John Sharpe
Published: April 2, 2016
Read "Across the Universe" CD/LP/Track Review Across the Universe
by Dave Wayne
Published: May 1, 2016
Read "Porcupine Meat" CD/LP/Track Review Porcupine Meat
by James Nadal
Published: September 29, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

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!

Buy it!