TV Trio is a whirlwind CD from a guy with a list of credits and honors as long as your arm. The entire disc is a series of takes on TV themes, not a new idea but never done quite like this, to my recollection. For much of the set, pianist John Stetch has a hard attack technique when he plays, which can momentarily be a trifle unsettling to the ear until he unleashes his virtuosity and a blinding series of tempo shifts that turn on a dime and give you nine cents change. Couple those with a post-bop intelligence and abstract mindset evolving the old Ramsey Lewis and Ahmad Jamal work in the same vein a good deal further, and you have abundant reason for, as Pauline Oliveiros puts it, deep listening.
Stetch is more than capable in balladic meter as well, pulling back his lightning chops, as in The Mighty Hercules, showing a sensitivity that surprises after the furious ivory play in earlier cuts. In slow phase, he demonstrates brief flashes of Oscar Peterson's tone and side runs. The rhythm section flares out nicely here, too, where it can otherwise be dense and sometimes wild (especially drummer Rodney Green). No matter the cut, though, get ready for tons of improv...and I'd suggest a relaxing drink be at the ready as well, 'cause this cat gets the pulse racing more often than not. Look also to inflectional surprises, especially in tracks like The Price is Right, brimming with elan and unbelievably rapid shifts in emphasis.
There's a very classic aspect to TV Trio despite all the heady forward motion and modernities. Stech has voraciously absorbed piano jazz in its myriad forms of the last 50 or 60 years (one hears a wealth of early bits and pieces when listening carefully) and his runs are cleaner than clean, precise to a fare thee well while fully invested in an array of moods. Get the CD for its novel nature, if that very cool element strikes you, but expect to come away buzzing from the sheer artistry and inventiveness of it all.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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