Mercury Concert had been recorded in 1998 and released in 1999, so this generous update on the Veryan Weston/John Edwards/Mark Sanders trio is very much welcome. Gateway to Vienna is a packed two-CD set showcasing this vivid trio in both studio and live settings. Disc one was recorded on December 19, 2003, at Gateway Studios, and presents pianist Weston, bassist Edwards, and drummer Sanders in one of their finest hours (one hour 20 minutes, actually). First of all, the sound quality is excellent. Most of all, the level of synergetic interplay is exemplary throughout the session. The trio explores a wide range of dynamics, stretching from flooring outbursts of energy to extremely delicate conversations with silence (in "Gateway Five," a highlight). The pianist has been diversifying his techniques over the past few years and, as a result, his playing has grown into something as unique and identifiable as Steve Beresford's, while eschewing any form of pigeonholing -- his resourcefulness is staggering in "Gateway Two" and "Gateway Four." The studio set consists of six medium-length pieces in the ten- to 15-minute range. It is more focused and listener-demanding than the live set featured on the second disc. Recorded at the Porgy & Bess in Wien (Austria) on May 10, 2002, this performance consists of two 35- to 40-minute improvisations. The approach is considerably different. The trio sounds more playful but also less intense. Weston and Edwards occasionally engage in jazzier exchanges, and the trio often locks up in a more common form of energetic free improv that, as exciting as it may be (and they do make it exciting), feels a lot more "comfortable" than the essential material heard on disc one. It still makes a fine recording -- and not a redundant one at that, considering the trio's very short discography. And disc one is alone worth the price of admission, as one of Weston's best sessions of late.
AllMusic Review by François Couture
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2