Reuben Hoch and Time – “Of Recent Time ” – Naim

by | Aug 20, 2006 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Reuben Hoch and Time –  “Of Recent Time ” – Naim CD 088 –  53:38  ****1/2:

(Reuben Hoch – Drums; Don Friedman-Piano; Ed Schuller-Bass)

This is the second straight time I’ve reviewed a drummer-led trio when I was unfamiliar with the drummer (the other being the Bruce Jackson Trio).  I’m somehow gonna have to correct this situation because these guys are far, far more than just good.  If it wasn’t for the band name and jewel box packaging, I might have guessed this release was under pianist Don Friedman’s name.  Were this the case, the listener would be ecstatically praising the contribution of the drummer.  That Mr. Hoch allows Friedman so much space speaks volumes about him as both a musician and a man.  He knows the best way to present works of art – he knows precisely what the drums are all about in the scheme of things, whether the band leader or not. 

Pianist Friedman is, in fact, simply magnificent.  He manages to create a superb comfort level for the listener, who can be assured that the piano is being treated to top-flight treatment and that the piano decidedly appreciates the visit -even as an inanimate object.  Bassist Schuller also shines, be it when soloing or in ensemble mode.  He does tend to hum when soloing, which I find much less irritating than when Keith Jarrett does it.  According to the booklet notes, the trio placed self imposed pressure on themselves by obtaining the original charts.  As a result, “a significant time was allotted in preparation, knowing that the music could be critically analyzed by its composers”.  No need to worry.  The time was well spent and it shows magnificently.

The program consists of two originals and six contemporary works (Sam Rivers, Pat Metheny, Brad Mehldau, Ornette Coleman, Steve Kuhn and Wayne Shorter).  If forced to choose, I’d select Coleman’s “Turnaround” as the piece that best demonstrates the virtuosity of each band member.  An incredible track!

Once again, mention must be made of the outstanding sonic achievement involved in a jazz release.  Many might be familiar with the name Naim, which is associated with high end audio equipment.  The Naim record label extends this quality to the recording process.  Ken Christianson has joined the rarified group of perhaps a half dozen legendary jazz engineers.  This session was recorded at the Community Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  (the jewel box contains a photo of the facility).  Mr. Christianson utilized only two microphones.  However, he “requested the erection of a platform for the bass so that the bridge of the instrument would be on the same level as the opening of the piano with drum placement quite a distance from the rest of the players”.  The imagination shown here is totally realized in playback.  It could be said that engineer Christianson is the fourth member of the trio.  All I know is that the combination of tremendous playing and state-of-the-art redbook recording quality makes this release a “must purchase” on many levels.  One of the top one-percent sonic achievements, matched by the supreme quality of the playing.

Tracks:  Beatrice, Question and Answer, Unrequited, Ballad for Nori, Turnaround, Poem for no. 15, Flamands, Yes and No.

–  Birney K. Brown


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