Since 1992, Peter Erskine has been putting out exquisite piano trio music on the ECM label, in the company of pianist John Taylor and bassist Palle Daniellson. Live at Rocco is the double-disc debut of a new, equally exciting trio completed by pianist Alan Pasqua and bassist David Carpenter, both of whom, incidentally, have done stellar work with Allan Holdsworth. Erksine, Pasqua, and Carpenter have all had the fusion bug at one time or another, but the vibe here is acoustic, generally mellow, and gloriously melodic.
Pasqua, who wrote seven of the 15 tunes, has a way with hooks -- "To Love Again" and "Caribe" sound almost like finely crafted pop songs. "Taiowa," the vamp-based "Jerry Goldsmith," and the stately "Milagro" reveal his more adventurous side, while the two ballads "Greta" and "Children" whisper with fragility and tenderness. Carpenter's sole original, "Riff Raff," begins as a bass-driven groove and eases into bopping swing. Erskine contributes the spritely "Bulgaria," the hypnotic and soft "Life Today," and the Jarrett-like "Autumn Rose." Impressionistic yet burning takes of "All of You" (Carpenter's solo) and the seldom-played "How About You?" fit right in with the original material. John Taylor's "Pure and Simple," the most swinging cut of the session, could have lent the album a fitting subtitle. Keeping it pure and simple was exactly the intention of these three strikingly complementary players.