As more jazz pianists explore the classic piano-bass-drums format, the listening public is finding their distinction without a much of a difference. If not bop inspired, falling along the lines of Bill Evans, or mining a more spiritual quality, one has to stretch the parameters to carve out something unique. Sheer chops, improvisational acumen, or music based on parabolic curves is not enough. This makes Bennett Paster's effort with this trio a most exciting listen, for he is certainly avoiding clichés while taking the masters to heart, and forging his own personal brand of modern music. Paster wrote four of these pieces including "Bunzo Bean," which inexplicably sounds like a Bill Evans' take of "Watch What Happens." A brisk, quick waltz time identifies "The Wild Kitties," and tenor saxophonist Chris Cheek joins the band for "Epiphany" and the bright, bouncy title track. There's no wasted motion with an effortless, clean, smooth dynamic throughout, but Paster takes some chances interpreting standards. "Sweet & Lovely" uses a modal arrangement and a stretched melody, "East of the Sun" atypically bops and bounces with a hip contemporary rhythm, while bassist Gregory Ryan fronts the lead line of "Everything I Love." Ryan and drummer Keith Hall are equal partners in this democratic trio, each adding three compositions collectively, Ryan's heavy spirit song "Dark Day" being the most noticeable. As a collection this CD stands up well upon repeated listenings, with the only variants being the explored timbres, not a broad range of expressionism, but showing plenty of promise for Paster and his mates to make a definitive statement of new jazz somewhere along the road.
Invisible Horizon Review
by Michael G. Nastos
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