Three Pianos for Jimi

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A power trio of a completely different kind, Triad, comprised of Geri Allen with brothers Mark and Scott Batson, tackle the music of Jimi Hendrix in a way that surely the grand master of psychedelic acid blues-rock guitar would never have fathomed. These three acoustic pianists reinvent the familiar themes of Hendrix into a new music that might take fans aback, but if listened to closely, reaps great rewards as legitimate extensions of the original works. What it also indicates is that before he unceremoniously passed away at a far too young age, Hendrix was working in jazz contexts with Gil Evans, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Larry Young, and John McLaughlin. Removed from the jazz-rock fusion of the day, Triad take those multi-elemental notions into an improvised chamber music sphere. Some of the pieces, such as the freewheeling six-fisted bop-oriented "Message to Love" and the Batsons' duet on "Manic Depression," are barely recognizable from the originals unless you listen closely, the latter tune segmenting the conflicting emotions of franticness and deep blues. The melodramatic "1983... (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)" is close to the original in its introduction, then expands in a nonlinear but typically Hendrix-like passionate manner. Perhaps the most covered tune, "Little Wing" is soulful to the nth degree, as is Allen's solo performance of "Land of the New Rising Sun," which is virtually a gospel treatment, and the pastoral waltz interpretation of "The Wind Cries Mary" is closer still to Hendrix's account. Another Batson brothers duet, "Love or Confusion," combines Kurt Weill-like dramatism with four-hands slam-bang stride piano inflections. Even Hendrix fans may not recognize the deliberate, introspective mood Allen conjures during the lengthy "Cherokee Mist." This will not be for every fan of the electric six-string genius, but should strike a chord in a wide variety of music listeners, as was the case with the expanding influences Jimi Hendrix was guided by.

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