Don Thompson

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This is an exquisite post-bop trio date from 1975. The music is romantic, impressionistic, singingly melodic, and rich in delicious harmonies. It also has a driving, muscular energy that rules out any possibility of mere prettiness. Some tracks feature leader Don Thompson overdubbed on piano and vibes, but this is handled seamlessly, creating the sound of a quartet rather than simply a player covering two parts. He ceaselessly mines for harmonic possibilities, allowing each track to constantly open up onto new moods and vistas. Thompson is impressive, but this LP's best rewards are found in the playing of the trio as a whole. Bassist Gene Perla could not possibly be more attuned to Thompson and to drummer Joe LaBarbera. Perla's throbbing glissandos and bends, dancing lines, perfect fills, and use of space are at the heart of each track. The light touch of the coolly spectacular LaBarbera is countered at key moments with bursts of power that shift the speed and direction of the music. Like Perla, he contributes as much melodically as he does rhythmically. The tracks, all Thompson originals, present the trio from several lights -- variously poignant, ecstatic, graceful, and sublime. The transcendent level of communication among the players is constant throughout.

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