Chicago was Frank Sinatra's kind of town (although he grew up in northern New Jersey and moved to Los Angeles), and Tatsu Aoki obviously feels the same way. The Windy City is the capitol of the AACM, and Aoki's avant-garde jazz has always been firmly rooted in an AACM aesthetic -- that is, outside playing (or inside/outside playing) that is spacy rather than dense and reflective instead of blistering. Creatively, the acoustic bassist has done so well in Chicago that he would probably be nuts to move to New York or anywhere else, and Trio is a good example of why he belongs in the Windy City. Recorded in Chi-Town from 2000-2002, this CD finds Aoki forming a threesome with two Chicago-based reed players Joseph Jarman (an AACM heavyweight) and Robbie Lynn Hunsinger. Aoki sticks to bass, while his colleagues embrace a variety of wind instruments. The tools in Jarman's arsenal range from the alto sax to the flute to the bass clarinet, and the seven instruments that Hunsinger picks up include the oboe, the English horn, and two saxophones (alto and soprano). Favoring an inside/outside format, the trio delivers an album that is relatively accessible by avant-garde standards. Trio is left-of-center, although not as far to the left as some AACM projects. Aoki and Jarman, true to form, use space effectively throughout the CD, and the trio's performances have a very spiritual, reflective, meditative quality. Elements of Asian music are incorporated, which makes perfect sense because Aoki was born in Japan and Jarman practices Buddhism (a religion that has attracted artists ranging from Tina Turner to Philadelphia jazz singer Barbara Montgomery). Trio is among the many Aoki discs that the bassist can be proud to have in his sizable catalog.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson