I'll put this up front: if you're into the innovative Australian group The Necks, you're already into pianist Danny Fox and his Trio; ya just don't know it yet. I intend to cure that. As with the Ozzie tri-tet, NYC Fox and compeers don't recognize trad formalities except in the abstract, creating their own rules and parameters, a mash-up and hybridization of so many elements that the end effort enters new territories. I always like to hark back to Paul Bley and his 80s trios and quartets in such instances, as he's one of the cats who long ago got me solid to what could be done were one's mind sufficiently open to it (listen to Paul's Turns and Syndrome to see what I'm referring to).
However, Wide-Eyed isn't quite the quasi-free/bop/free-jazz Bley & Co. practiced. No, it's more avant-chamber than that, at once eschewing much of what went before while cleaving to its own very apprehendable structures and progressions, elucidations salvaged from the past to warp-zone into the future. This is seen in the very first cut, Sterling, where, after an interesting 6:48 of variations and ellipticalizations, the song reaches the point where you fully expect a dissolve back into the main melody but…it just ends, leaving the listener with the most curious blend of "Huh?" and "Hey, that's cool!", as well as a thought or two upon art and expectations.
Bassist Chris van Voorst van Beest (ya gotta love such a surname!) and drummer Max Goldman are likewise novo-jazzcats, as invested in unorthodoxy as Fox. Listening to a Trio song or disc, in fact, is like visiting the Modern Art wing of a museum. Things are all over the place yet make perfect sense if you're willing to just stand there and exist in the environment, let it come to you rather than toting your backlog of history into it. The aptly named Bonkers will prove my assertion in 6:02, but so will the entire roster. There's not a moment that doesn't intrigue, fascinate, titillate. And going back to The Necks? I'm not sure the average humanoid could survive a double-header concert of the two groups. It'd be too much in the way of bliss overload. I well remember seeing the Towner-Abercrombie Five Years Later tour with Wayne Johnson as the opener, and I barely made it out of the venue, speechless, a seraphic smile floating across my mug, eyes glazed over with rapture. Wide Eyed is that kind of gig.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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