When you want to remember the Bill Cunliffe Trio, rhyme it with 'brio' 'cause these guys have a cool post-bop, hip nu-jazz, lookin'-to-the-trad-side-while-yankin'-it-forward way to them. From Martin Wind's elastic kalimba-esque opening bass intro in the first cut, Sweet Andy, and forward, you know you're in for a swinging fleet-footed time generously interspersed with pools of thoughtful oases 'neath shaded arbors. Cunliffe's the kind of pianist who reminds one of the unorthodox intelligences we used to run across in English classes. You know the ones: the cats who could come up with the damnedest analyses of literature, the kind that made everyone wonder "How the hell did he come up with that??" because, though it was spot-on, the critique represented a whole different way of thinking. Catch Bill's fragmentation of The Girl from Ipanema and you'll see what I mean. Like a warm summer's rain, it falls all over you in gentle cascades, and you look up in delight, wondering "How could this happen?"
Choro has any number of passages mindful of Patrick Moraz but is overall early Brubeck. Throughout the disc, drummer Tim Horner tends a little more pronouncedly to the colorative rather than the rhythm section, Martin oft handling the main rhythm duties to the side of both. This makes the background more sunlit and the earthy bottom side a cobbled boulevard amid rustic edifices. Cunliffe's take on Bjork's All is Love is going to remind you of what Christopher O'Riley did with Radiohead in True Love Waits: great choice of a great source but not the whole nine yards expected. Here, a good construction in and of itself, but you just can't flesh out everything, or even the true essence, of what's carried by ambientalized electronica this way. Nice try, though. On the other hand, his do of Nilsson's One (is the Loneliest Number) is great and contains a number of allusions to the Beatles. Harry, 'member, was a big pal and stoned-out drinking buddy of John Lennon.
Erik's Song, the final entry, is a lullabye and deftly handled to remain so when Bill and compeers step outside its preliminary boundaries. In retrospect, the song closes out the playfulness of the opening track, the aforementioned Sweet Andy (and the perfect choice for lead cut), by taking everything down into the night, gently, with consideration and aplomb. Interesting, then, that Cunliffe started out in a group with, as he puts it, heh!, the "diabolical" Scott Robinson, whose devilishly excellent Doctette release is reviewed here. The two couldn't be more different, and yet the intelligence in both equations is undeniable, and thus the factor separating the men from the boys is obviously an omnivorousness that ripens even well beyond the artists' hopes. The only thing they have to do is master and refine the potentialities into manifestations. No problem, then, on that in this.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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