Jesus! for some reason, probably the mellow cover shot, I expected a kinda quiet mannered intro to this trio, but, hoo-ee!, pianist Keith Davis can play with incisors and knuckles! The lead cut, Lieb, is, I expect, a play upon the name of a jazz giant, Dave Liebman, with whom Davis studied, and one of the cats who nailed my own head to the floor way back in the 70s in his ECM work. Thus, the cut's upstarty, spirited, complicated, and unapologetically in your face. Then Ron Brendle's muscular bass takes over and carries the invigoration forward, letting down into Justin Watts' percussion bravura. Man, Davis spared no horses in getting right under the listener's skin from the git-go, and that's why the sophomore track, New Beginning, and third slice, Chrysalis, ramp down a bit.
Still, though, 'light and airy' would not be descriptives I'd apply there, as the pianist is firm, unwavering, and backs off for no one even when thoughtful and just as much when comping. In Elis, he fades behind the bass solo but bangs in an emphatic every few moments before roaring back out again, setting up Watt's timespace, going mano a mano with the guy. I'm reminded of some of the standards work Keith Jarrett does with Gary Peacock and others, when he and Gary go off on beautiful tangents, trading off bold lines, always with more than a little elegance.
Taji Camp is a perfect evocation of the centrality of the piano, though, as Davis is ceaseless in his energies and insistences, solid as hell. Raja Numia breaks that back down, lightening up, more Guaraldi-esque, but in no wise compromising. In fact, his right hand comps in the firm understructure the left hand only hints at. Very little need be guessed at with this gent, it's all right there, and it's, moreover, Brendle who more than once expands the horizons while Watt keeps the home front secure. Still, the spotlight's unwaveringly on Davis, as it should be. This is piano music straight from the 50s traditions, and, hinted at earlier, enjoys a great cover photo and art direction, too, straight out of ECM's old days.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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