Recorded at the tail end of 2003, Expansion features pianist/composer Dave Burrell's new Full-Blown Trio, which includes drummer Andrew Cyrille and the nearly ubiquitous William Parker on bass. These seven selections -- all but one composed by the pianist -- range in mood, tone, and focus. The title track opens the disc; it's a knot-like composition that swings on a round of post-blues concerns and vanguard explorations of harmony. Parker's bass playing is the force of transition from one motif to another throughout. The delightful version of Irving Berlin's "They Say It's Wonderful," is the literal centerpiece of the record. A solo piece, it holds to the original's melody while stretching its rhythmic dynamic to the breaking point without changing the actual time signature. Burrell's fills between the lyric lines are humorous, warm, and dazzling. Parker opens "In the Balance," by playing the kora, offering both mode and melody, while Cyrille shimmers on the cymbals behind him and Burrell extrapolates the harmonics in the upper register of the piano. It's the most beautiful -- and non-"jazz" track -- on the set. Expansion closes with the nearly straight-ahead swing of "Coup d'Etat," with Burrell pacing the rhythm section in angular (though not dissonant), Lennie Tristano-esque intervals. Expansion is a lovely record of short to mid-length pieces by a trio versed in understatement and nuance.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek