A trio with an open-ended attitude towards exploration 

Phil DeGreg Trio – Queen City Blues – Self Released 65:57***:

( Phil DeGreg – piano; Aaron Jacobs – bass; John Taylor – drums)

Self released albums are generally looked on with some degree of skepticism as they usually beg the question “why couldn’t this band, group, singer , etc.” find a record label if they were any good. The correct answer is probably more complex, and frequently has more to do with circumstances rather than talent. That certainly is the case with The Phil DeGreg Trio’s release Queen City Blues. Talent abounds and while a record deal may not be around the corner, a wider listening audience is deserved.

With a judicious mix of original material and popular standards, the trio has given themselves ever opportunity to shine, and they make the most of it. As Phil DeGreg states in the liner notes:”this CD celebrates thirty years of performing weekly with a piano trio in Cincinnati, and in particular ten years with Aaron and John, the most versatile trio I have ever had.” This empathy is clearly evident from the opening track “Westside Getaway”. Full of jump and a rush of single note playing, DeGreg shows he is a pianist of bold proficiency. He  also knows that bassist Jacobs and drummer Taylor are equally savvy about groove and tunefulness.

George Gershwin is dutifully represented with two of his standouts; “Embraceable You” and “I’ve Got A Crush On You” each of which are given delightful renditions. The former is done in a perky frame full of precision and proficiency. The second number is done in a slower tempo much reminiscent of Frank Sinatra’s 1947 recording where he was supported by trumpeter Bobby Hackett.

Cincinnati was given the nickname the Queen City which was memorialized in an 1854 poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow entitled Catawba Wine. DeGreg  has written a composition called “Queen City Blues” to commemorate his hometown. It doesn’t have the traditional 12 bar blues form, but rather it has boisterous attack filled with invigorating strength.

It is clear that DeGreg and his cohorts work within the framework of an open-ended attitude of exploration, and have deep pool of mutual instinct.So regardless whether they are diving into the bossa nova beat of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Favela” or the Ahmad Jamalish reading of “Cherokee”, the trio brings their best work to their endeavours.

Westside Getaway
Embraceable You
Fountain On A Square
I’ve Got A Crush On you
Falling Grace
Queen City Blues
All The Things You Are
Five For Bill
My Foolish Heart
My Romance

—Pierre Giroux