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Danny Fox Trio: Wide Eyed

Dan McClenaghan By

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The Danny Fox Trio is a working band, which is something of a rarity these days. But for building a rapport and depth of communication, there isn't a substitute for touring together and working out the musical problems and over an extended period of time. This New York City-based piano trio that debuted with The One Constant (Songlines, 2011) now offers a follow-up, Wide Eyed.

The band was formed in 2008, and seems serious about reshaping the piano trio approach. On a set of all pianist/leader Danny Fox's originals, the melody/harmony/rhythm duties are shared, tempos shift, and the influences bounce in from all corners of the music world: Ellington, rock music, bluegrass, circus music, classical, swing, and, ultimately—on the set's closer, "Tumble Quiet," the steady but unpredictable rhythm of clothes dryer.

Wide Eyed as a title for the CD fits. Much of the sound is motivic—making use of a few short fragments of a melody in developing a solo—and the surprises emerging from and wrapped around those baseline phrases do indeed open the eyes and ears.

"Confederates" starts with a dark chord then develops into an ominous, prickly march, and "Drone" careens and soars, with drummer Max Goldman pushing the momentum before bassist Chris van Voorst slips into a stealthy solo that Fox breaks interupts via a Red Garland sparkle on he keyboard, a repeated left hand figure anchoring a right hand sprinkle of glimmering light. The title tune—and initially subdued ballad that gathers strength—slows the pace, with its pensive, gorgeous melody, and "Short Al In Brooklyn" struts in a carefree fashion, not a care in the world.

A lot of young piano trios are out there plying the trade, doing their part to reshape the format and make it their own. The Danny Fox Trio proves itself, with Wide-Eyed one of the most successful at the endeavor.

Track Listing: Sterling; Bonkers; All Tolled; Drone; Wide Eyed; Confederates; Short Al In Brooklyn; Patriot Daze; Punches; Funhouse Memory; Tumble Quiet.

Personnel: Danny Fox: piano; Chris Van Voorst Van Beest: bass; Max Goldman: drums.

Title: Wide Eyed | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Hot Cup Records


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