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 June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Life After Life" CD/LP/Track Review Life After Life
by Troy Collins
Published: March 5, 2016
Read "Henrik Jensen's Followed by Thirteen: Blackwater" CD/LP/Track Review Henrik Jensen's Followed by Thirteen: Blackwater
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 21, 2016
Read "Times and Tides" CD/LP/Track Review Times and Tides
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "Love Wins Again" CD/LP/Track Review Love Wins Again
by James Nadal
Published: June 9, 2016
Read "This Is Where I Live" CD/LP/Track Review This Is Where I Live
by James Nadal
Published: June 20, 2016
Read "Inspired" CD/LP/Track Review Inspired
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 4, 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!