In the early '60s, bassist Hal Gaylor founded a noteworthy but short-lived group that he called the Trio. With Gaylor on upright bass, Walter Norris on acoustic piano, and Billy Bean on electric guitar, the Trio favored a drumless format that recalled the Nat King Cole Trio of the 1940s. But anyone who listens to this bop-oriented 1961 session, which was produced by the ubiquitous Orrin Keepnews, will realize that the Trio never went out of its way to emulate Cole's group. While the Nat King Cole Trio is an influence, Norris is far from a Cole imitator -- in 1961, the pianist was well aware of what everyone from Bill Evans to Lennie Tristano to Thelonious Monk had accomplished. Norris was only 29 when this album was recorded, and while The Trio isn't as adventurous as some of the albums that he recorded as a leader in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, it is a pleasing bop date. Gaylor (who switches to cello on his lively "Che-Low") enjoys a strong rapport with Norris and Bean on original material as well as performances of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "The End of a Love Affair" and "For Heaven's Sake." Regrettably, Gaylor and Bean both ended up leaving the music world; in fact, Gaylor gave up jazz to become a certified drug counselor. Norris, thankfully, never left jazz and was still recording when the 21st century arrived. And we can also be thankful that the Trio, although underexposed and short-lived, is documented on this enjoyable album.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson