Greg Burk resides in Rome, Italy, but this CD recalled days when he was living in the Metro-Boston area, working with the Either/Orchestra and being inspired by swimming in the legendary Walden Pond. Many years prior he initially connected with bassist Jonathan Robinson and drummer Luther Gray at a class Archie Shepp taught at U-Massachusetts. Recorded in a study lounge at Harvard, the Ivy Trio, reunited 14 years later, parallels few piano-bass drums triads, as they suggest the European stylings Burk would later adopt. Burk, a clearly talented and forward-thinking pianist, is searching for new variance in nuance and phrasings. He is swinging sweet and light during "Dumbo's Dilemma," and takes an alluring samba to heart on "Operetta." "Duck & Gulls," clearly inspired by the Pond, is introspective and moody, but more percussive than melodic. He digs in on a powerful "Hupid Stumid," muscular and direct, but not pushy, rambles quite freely during "Blink to Be," and wittily changes chords in a unique fashion on the bop warhorse "Billie's Bounce." The first tune "Look to the Neutrino" is completely disarming and not reflective of the rest of the album. A knuckle-curve for sure, it utilizes a thorny, muddy, dense Moog synthesizer, sounding like a Farfisa organ, and is similar to a Bad Plus stance before Burk goes back to the acoustic piano. It's not bad, just incongruent. This is a minor quibble, for Burk presents a piano trio of a different stripe, removed from influences, save maybe Paul Bley, and creates on-the-spot spontaneous composition that is easy to recognize, tough to pigeonhole, smartly conceived, and well realized.
Ivy Trio Review
by Michael G. Nastos