Michael Moore's trio with pianist Fred Hersch and Mark Helias is one of the union's in modern jazz. Moore restricts himself to playing clarinet on this date, and, with no drummer present, the restrained palette relies on the magic of intervallic invention, the subtle and towering structures of harmonic architecture, and the dynamic considerations that the trio setting affords. Over 15 tracks, seven of them Moore's and the rest a vast array of true gems from the jazz and international folk pantheon, this trio manages to create a kind of jazz that transcends the genre and simply becomes music. Whether it is the wonderfully impressionistic lyricism of "Frontier," with it's rearrangement of three harmonic figures between clarinet and piano, or the driving modalism of Wayne Shorter's "Albatross" or the strutting harmonies in Jimmy Rowles' "The Peacocks," this trio manages to add, shape, contour, and improvise on exactly what makes this kind of trio interaction unique. Helias' bass playing here is singular; he melts into the backdrop while guiding with purpose the tempo and dynamic of every tune in the program. He is never absent, never without "wood," yet he moves elliptically through tracks, such as Tom Jobim's "Inutil Paisagem," with a simmering rhythm and contrapuntal staccato that brings Hersch up and into the body of the tune as Moore slips around and under its melodic line. On Moore's "Odin," it is Hersch who inverts the line and turns it back on itself, causing Moore in his solo to reconsider how the lyric is structured and then deconstruct it once more in order to restate it with a silvery glissando. Quite simply, this is a breathtaking if quiet recording, full of surprises and musical innovation at nearly every turn offering a new definition to the phrase "art of the trio."
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek