John Bishop

Nothing If Not Something

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This is the Seattle sound at its finest. The trio, led by Origin Records founder John Bishop, has a subtle touch. The sound is dignified, but isn't afraid to let the sax wail a little now and then. In large part, the music gains something distinctive over East Coast jazz in its lack of a drive to highlight talent and knowledge merely for the sake of showcasing. In leaving behind the need to take off with a massive reference-filled solo or match the masters in sheer power, the band frees itself up to spend its efforts on a more careful approach. The players get to pick through their massive respective ranges, finding the perfect pieces to put together in a conversational interplay between the instruments. With no piano or guitar, the sound can be a bit sparse at times, but it works well in this setting. The open spaces are utilized wonderfully. Every student of jazz can recite maxims about beauty being in the spaces between the notes, à la Monk, but it's rare that a trio can use the spacing of a composition so well in setting up phrasings to their fullest effect. This is very subtle music, but a rich endeavor.

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