(Bruce Jackson – Drums; Bob Himmelberger – Piano; Nicholas Bayak – Acoustic Bass)
Well, this excellent release does nothing to shake my belief that jazz players are the most accomplished musicians. It also re-affirms my long held opinion that jazz discs are the best recorded music. Here’s a label and engineer (Dave Kowalski) that I’ve never even heard of before and the sonics are simply magnificent. The separation between instruments and basic soundstage are superb. One can easily follow each and every note played by all three performers. Just gorgeous.
In a more band-specific sense, this release reminds me of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” where they keep asking themselves “who are these guys?” as they’re being relentlessly and expertly tracked by the posse. This trio outing by three unfamiliar artists had me asking the same thing while thoroughly enjoying the expert playing from the three-man posse.
Things start off with a very nice working of Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” showcasing all three. Mr. Jackson’s extended drum solo at the end demonstrates the immensity of his sound and is actually his only lengthy solo (otherwise, he tends to trade towards the end of tracks with pianist Himmelberger). Generally, Jackson’s drumkit is a tad forward in the mix, but this is fine as his accents and shadings are wonderful. Pianist Himmelbeger is a true revelation – he shows versatility, fire and elegance throughout. The man’s got the goods and won’t be obscure much longer! Bassist Bayak is completely solid, whether supporting, walkin’ or soloing. These three have great telepathy – something greatly enhanced by the articulation and clarity of instruments by the production job.
“Footprints” is followed by a series of standards demonstrating the ability of this group to span the gamut from bop, to post bop, to ballads, to ECM-like chamber jazz. The disc is very well-paced. Jackson handles brushes as well as sticks, Bayak knows the right drive and Himmelberger stands out in any context. This one is a marvelous example of a first-class jazz trio meeting with complete success while attacking a diverse and inspired program.
Tracks: Footprints, Firewater, Rhythm-A-Ning, Iris, Pee-Wee, Paris Eyes, Never Let Me Go, Picadilly Lilly, My Ship
– Birney K. Brown