Bill CarrothersTrio: A Night At The Village Vanguard – Pirouet

by | Nov 28, 2011 | Jazz CD Reviews

Bill Carrothers Trio: A Night At The Village Vanguard – Pirouet Records PIT3056 (2 CDs), 139:24 ****:
(Bill Carrothers – piano; Nicolas Thys – bass; Dre’ Pallemaerts – drums)
What is it about New York City’s iconic night spot The Village Vanguard that spurs jazz musicians to reach exalted levels of performance? From Bill Evans, to John Coltrane, to Gerry Mulligan, and now the pianist Bill Carrothers follows those previous muses to new heights.
In this first live two CD offering from Munich-based Pirouet Records, Carrothers and his European accompanists deliver a luminous two set presentation from the club. In the first set which is comprised of ten tunes, Carrothers shows his colours with five hard bop classics including three from Clifford Brown comprising “ Tiny Capers”, “Joy Spring”  and  “Gerkin For Perkin”. It is clear from these offerings that Carrothers has an angular style, and does not attack these tunes from a traditional perspective. Sandwiched among these offerings is Victor Young’s “Delilah” which is driven by an underlying flamenco theme.
Later on Duke Jordan’s “Jordu” is set out by Carrothers’ strong left hand in a press-role type beat, and then bassist Nicolas Thys is given ample solo space to show his versatility. Carrothers offers a couple of his own compositions starting with “Home Row“ and then “News From Home” with the former in a up-tempo mode with some two-handed embellishments. As the first set closes out, one of the pieces is the Jimmy McHugh/Frank Loesser tune “Let’s Get Lost”, which became a Chet Baker anthem, but here is given a more suggestive interpretation by the band.
The second set continues with a couple of compositions by former band mates Clifford Brown and Richie Powell namely, “Junior’s Arrival” and “Time”. The former is a sprightly piece and the latter is done almost like a dirge, but each demonstrates the range that the group covers. The old minstrel tune from the 1850s, “Jordan is a Hard Road to Travel “would be unrecognizable via the interpretation given by the group, but it is a tour de force of originality. Of the next six tracks, Carrothers demonstrates his inventiveness with four of his own compositions: “Peg,” “Discombopulated,” “Snowbound” and “Our House”.  All of these pieces have complex harmonic structures, varied time signatures, and are complicated performances. Finally the Henry Mancini pop favourite” The Shadow Of Your Smile” is covered in an oblique fashion, indicating that this trio is not going to be defined in any conventional way.
Bill Carrothers and his cohorts have established themselves as a new and interesting aggregation, offering stimulating interpretations of their jazz repertoire.
: Tiny Capers; Joy Spring/Delilah; Gerkin For Perkin; Gertrude’s Bounce; Jordu; This Is Worth Fighting For; Home Row; News From Home; Let’s Get Lost; Those Were The Days; CD2:Junior’s Arrival; Time; Jordan Is A Hard Road To Travel; Peg; Blue Evening; Discombopulated; Snowbound; Days Of Wine And Roses; Our House
—Pierre Giroux

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