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Myriad3: Vera

Jerome Wilson By

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The number of contemporary jazz piano trios that take their inspiration from non-jazz sources seems to grow all the time. To a list that includes The Bad Plus, Phronesis, and E.S.T. add the Canadian group Myriad3 which draws from concepts in classical music and progressive rock. They often begin their pieces with one repeated figure and spin hypnotic webs of variations and countermelodies from there.

Their style can produce works of singular beauty. On "Diamond," a quiet piano and bass figure is repeated like an Erik Satie composition before pianist Chris Donnelly breaks out into a soft, tinkling improvisation while drummer Ernesto Cervini rustles in the background and bassist Dan Fortin holds the slow pulse in place. "Ward Lock" builds from repeated bass notes into an undulating piano melody that slowly increases tempo before shifting wholesale into a more agitated and staccato motif with Cervini crashing away in the back. "Pluie Lyonnaise" comes on like heavy prog rock with Donnelly's piano crashing grandly over slowly stomping drums before rolling into a moody, romantic solo.

Different types of syncopation often become the starting point of these tracks. On "Fortress," Donnelly circles around a heavy bass and drum figure with bright, mid-tempo explorations. "DNA" is all stutter-step trio hiccuping that mixes in a layer of electric piano with the acoustic sounds. Glitchy breaks disrupt the sing-song repetition of "Meme Art." "Tamboa" starts with an exotic percussive rhythm that Donnelly and Fortin swirl around before Fortin moves into a more subdued bass melody decorated by probing piano lines and splashy cymbal work. "Couche Tard" begins with bass thumping that becomes uncomfortably intense before it is replaced by a placid mix of acoustic and electric piano that sounds a bit like early Weather Report.

Given this band's penchant for quirky and unexpected sounds, it's no surprise that the one non-original piece on this album is by Igor Stravinsky. "Piano-Rag-Music" shows the band at its most playful. They roll through the work in a tipsy, off-center manner, changing tempos at the drop of a hat and working in glockenspiel, ragtime and the "Third Man" theme with Dada-esque bravado.

Donnelly, Fortin and Cervini have the ability to knit together unique melodies out of syncopated beats, repetition and classical motifs and then further spin those into lovely improvisations. They create a mesmerizing and memorable sound.

Track Listing: Pluie Lyonnaise; Tamboa; Ward Lock; Diamond; Piano-Rag-Music; Fortress; DNA; Couche Tard; Meme Art; Total.

Personnel: Chris Donnelly: piano, Fender Rhodes, synthesizer, spoons; Dan Fortin: bass; Ernesto Cervini: drums, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, alto saxophone, glockenspiel, percussion.

Title: Vera | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Alma Records

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