Ivory tickler Rick Germanson's a bopster at heart, but he's played far and wide—with Slide Hampton, Elvin Jones, Eddie Henderson, Pat Martino, and other uber-notables—and if you're familiar with the range inherent in that roster of greats, then you'll readily understand his capabilities. On Off the Cuff, the pianist shades himself between bop, Evans, Guaraldi, and early and mid Corea. The guy's gig is improv, abstract conversational abstraction, and his endless permutations provide an engrossing listening experience.
Gerald Cannon, the bassist, also worked with Elvin Jones but adds Roy Hargrove and the giant McCoy Tyner to his resume, so we're not talking a Johnny Come Lately here. Drummer Louis Hayes has been, and still is, the leader of the Cannonball [Adderly] Legacy Band, and Germanson met up with him there, invited to join in 2001. When he and Cannon decided to form the trio, Hayes was the inevitable choice on traps.
As might be expected of such a trio, the entire slate is instrumental, from the balladic version of Up Jumped Spring, Freddie Hubbard's ol' chestnut, to the bouncing Daytona. Nothing, however, gets too outside, so the strains are something Oscar Peterson and George Shearing would have paused to peruse as well. Germanson takes the melodies, plays with them, expands the interpretations, and then shoots off in other directions, counterpointing each composition's core. What you hear is a series of seamless avenues and byways track to track.Off the Cuff is a CD of piano, piano, and then more piano, not of the blaring pounding sort, nor wispy New Age toffee, but contemplative exercises in a return to the quasi-chamber values that were being worked up from the 50s to the 70s. The trio baseline has always been a perfect vehicle for uncluttered but complex and enticing chops, and Germanson has relocated it to the edge of oncoming years. I'd dearly have welcomed a broader presence in Gerald Cannon but that's not a criticism, only a desire. Perhaps next time out…
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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