Joshua Trinidad – In November – RareNoise RNR094 Vinyl and CD, 53:03 [3/30/18] ****:
(Joshua Trinidad – trumpet; Jacob Young – guitar; Ståle Liavik Solberg – drums, percussion)
There is a deliberate restraint to Denver-based Joshua Trinidad’s trumpet playing. Trinidad’s style is the opposite of the effusive attitude of bop—and by extension post-bop—players such as Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan and others. Trinidad is closer in musical spirit to Norwegians like Mathias Eick and Nils Petter Molvær; and akin to Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko. In fact, Stańko (who passed away earlier this year) and his mood-ish ECM albums seem to have had an influence on Trinidad’s latest outing, the 53-minute, 11-track In November, issued via the UK label RareNoise. While RareNoise is known for loud, abrasive records, In November could easily be mistaken for an ECM release. There is an icy fluidity and overcast melancholy which permeates—but does not overwhelm—In November. Trinidad’s seventh record as a leader was released as an 180gms vinyl LP, multiple digital download formats and CD digipak. This review refers to the CD configuration.
Trinidad’s trio perfectly meshes with Trinidad’s original compositions. Guitarist Jacob Young— who shifts between acoustic and electric guitars—showcases myriad approaches from harder-edged and assertive amplified electric guitar runs to meditative instances on nylon-stringed acoustic guitar. Drummer/percussionist Ståle Liavik Solberg can equally move from pensive brushes and cymbals to more declarative drumming. Both Norwegians have a well-rounded musical background. Solberg has worked with Joe McPhee, John Butcher and Ingebrigt Håker Flaten. Young has recorded or performed with Larry Goldings, Molvær and numerous more. Trinidad’s résumé is even wider. He has played with artists ranging from Lee Konitz to a member of The Mars Volta, and from OK Go to The Bad Plus.
The cooler tunes have a relaxed calmness but also have nuanced disquiet. The interconnected “Bell (Hymn)” and “Bell (Lullaby)” flicker with glacial elegance. Young uses an ambient, effects-laced electric guitar during “Bell (Hymn),” producing a sometimes keyboard-esque grace which matches Trinidad’s textural trumpet. Young switches to ringing acoustic guitar on the quiet “Bell (Lullaby),” suggesting Ralph Towner and likeminded six-stringers. Young utilizes both acoustic and electric guitar on the immersive “Kin,” which has a visual and cinematic quality, like a soundtrack for a drone camera slowly moving across still waters. There is a less-is-more minimalism during “Giske,” named after the Norwegian island municipality where the band taped this session. The shaded and incandescent melodic tinges are landscaped by spare notes, Solberg’s delicate brushes and cymbals, and Young’s softly strummed electric guitar. There’s an equal amount of controlled malleability on the title track. The twilight-tinted piece is permeated by reflectiveness highlighted by suggestive harmonics. Young’s guitar hints at his former teacher John Abercrombie.
A few tunes have a raucous stance. The seven-minute opener, “Bedside,” showcases Solberg’s rock-inspired drumming while Young provides an open, electric blues timbre. Trinidad’s reverb-soaked trumpet rides above the stormy bedrock, his penetrating trumpet in contrast to Young’s brasher guitar and Solberg’s tempestuous percussion. There is also a discernable pop and/or rock characteristic to the five-minute “Feathers,” where Young supplies an electric guitar trait closer to alt-rock or blues-rock than typical jazz. “Feathers” has a more spontaneous spark—due mostly to Young—than other numbers, but never strays far from Trinidad’s obvious aesthetic. The album closes with two notable pieces. Trinidad delivers a liberated trumpet sound during “The Attic.” Trinidad stretches his notes while Young offers nominal, lingering notes or chords and Solberg uses meticulously-placed sticks. While “The Attic” has a moody setting, “Torreon” adjusts to something a bit nearer to measured jazz-rock due to Solberg’s orderly rhythm and Young’s flexible but deliberate electric guitar notes. As he does on all the tracks, Trinidad lifts above with his higher-ranging trumpet notes. If anyone is a fan of Scandinavian jazz which accentuates ambiance, atmosphere and gradual movement, Joshua Trinidad is someone to discover.