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Oz Noy: Triple Play

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Oz Noy: Triple Play
In the parlance of baseball, the triple play is one of the rarest occurrences in the game, a fielding opportunity relying as much on practice as experience. So it is altogether fitting that guitarist Oz Noy, drummer Dennis Chambers and bassist Jimmy Haslip title their live outing after this most unusual gambit; the trio's combined history and preternatural chemistry make for a singular outing, one in which camaraderie takes precedence over technique (although there is plenty of the latter).

Released without the benefit of overdubs or post-production sweetening, this tenth studio album under the Israeli-born Noy's name is a seventy-minute recording comprising ten tracks from two evenings at Stages Music Arts in Maryland. Its rock-oriented arrangements are in contrast to much of the exotica released by this label and, while the energizing sensation which arises from hearing it is far out of proportion to its level of innovation, it is also (thankfully) bereft of bombast.

Nonetheless, its concept is as brave as it is mature. Two pieces derive from icons of jazz—Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce" and Thelonious Monk's "Bemsha Swing"—while the remainder are originals from the guitarist and bandleader. However, all the performances resemble "Snapdragon," being permeated with an abiding sense of mutual comfort linking the three players as well as a shared rediscovery of their ability to play well together.

At the risk of belaboring the baseball allusion, Noy, Haslip and Chambers are indeed a team, each man aware of his role, fulfilling it to the hilt and never allowing ego to intrude on the three-way communication which pervades "Zig Zag," to name just one such instance. This eight-minute-plus opening is effectively delivered in two parts, the first emphasizing a funky riff followed by interpolation of a second slower and quieter interval which literally echoes what came before. Neither heavy-handed in the former nor self-conscious in the latter, it may well function as a thematic recapitulation for many a jazz fusion outing. As the commencement of Triple Play, the number gives way to the modified shuffle that is "Groovin' Grant." There, a collective surety allows the trio to slow down without fear of again regaining its fleet momentum To that end, Noy sets the pace with great authority; whether playing loud or soft his emphatic touch makes for crisp flurries of notes or single placements of extended lines of comparable accuracy, as on "Looni Tooni."

The threesome likewise takes its time on the piece authored by the aforementioned iconic pianist and composer. Opting to work its way slowly, almost luxuriously, into what turns out to be the longest cut on this album at 10:12—one almost overflowing with arresting progressions—this track seems to pass as quickly as its opposite, the slightly less than four minutes of "Twice In A While."

The quietude of the cover of 'Yardbird' allows Haslip to roam. Still, in keeping with the overall focus of this outing, he never strays or wanders purposelessly. Nor does he hurry any more than Noy as he steps forward to play the blues with a feeling as deep and abiding as Chambers.' All three musicians remain in a fluid instrumental parallel for the duration of that track.

The quick tease of the late Jimi Hendrix' "Spanish Castle Magic" toward its conclusion is but one of a few eerily familiar sequences. A nod to a great jazz tradition of quoting well-known songs during improvisation, it is only the most overt nod to the idiom in which Triple Play resides with such style. A gleeful effervescence of unfettered pleasure allows these three men with a wealth of experience—Santana, John McLaughlin, Alison Krause Gov't Mule, Yellowjackets—to prove it is altogether productive to remain open to the joy of possibility when playing together.

Track Listing

Zig Zag; Groovin' Grant; Bemsha Swing; Boom Boo Boom; Billie's Bounce; Snapdragon; Chocolate Souffle; Looni Tooni; Twice in a While; Twisted Blues.

Personnel

Oz Noy
guitar, electric

Album information

Title: Triple Play | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Abstract Logix

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