Trio Beyond – Saudades – ECM (2)

by | Jan 3, 2007 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Trio Beyond – Saudades – ECM 0006421-02, CD-1: 54:40, CD-2: 56:24 ****:

(John Scofield, guitar; Larry Goldings, Hammond organ, electric piano, sampler; Jack DeJohnette, drums)

Trio Beyond’s Saudades is a live double CD of the group’s concert at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London on November 21, 2004. While the instruments are electric and the players (DeJohnette and Scofield) are legendary in fusion circles, the trio’s sound is still mostly rooted in traditional jazz changes.

On Track 1, If, Scofield moves back and forth from fluid jazz chords to jangling rockabilly chords and sharp, percussive rock notes. Similiarly, Goldings alternates between jazzy, often repetitive lines and funky grooves. DeJohnette’s drumming is full of invention, utilizing drum rolls and oddly placed pick-ups to keep the tempo jittery and unpredictable. As One starts with Goldings playing  spacey Hammond organ, and as the organ notes drift out, Scofield begins to play a minimal lead. DeJohnette builds the tension with a lot of cymbal work and tom fills.

As One is really a long intro for Allah Be Praised, which finds the band up-tempo and Scofield playing hard, bluesy chords. The song seems intentionally sloppy, falling apart at only :30 in. Scofield hits bad notes and veers off tempo, while Goldings trudges along and DeJohnette drums up a storm for a band that’s in his head. It’s the kind of crash-and-burn that rock bands do when they’re trying to end a song but aren’t fully ready to let go of it, but I suspect with Trio Beyond it’s more an exercise in dissonance. Allah Be Praised moves quickly into Saudades, which features a swaggering funk groove and fiery wah guitar from Scofield that reminds me of Miles Davis’ On The Corner.

In the liner notes, every member of the group credits composer and drummer Tony Williams as a huge influence, which makes it so unfortunate that their version of his Pee Wee lacks the energy found in so many of the other songs. The song begins with just Scofield playing, his delicate guitar lines often a little too meandering, as if he knows the melody of the song so well he doesn’t feel like playing it straight even just once.

I Fall in Love Too Easily, the second track on the second disc, sounds like the soundtrack to a dream sequence, with Scofield playing low bass notes while Goldings tinkles the highest keys on his electric piano. Love in Blues, my personal favorite song, features Scofield playing a reverb-heavy acid-rock lead as Goldings lays down strong supporting organ chords.

Saudades is an impressive document of a fusion trio adept at many styles of jazz. While Scofield is certainly the center of the group, DeJohnette is the trio’s puppetmaster, finding creativity in rhythmic instability and always shifting the bedrock of the music in new and interesting ways.

Tracks: If, As One, Allah Be Praised, Saudades, Pee Wee, Spectrum, Seven Steps to Heaven, I Fall in Love Too Easily, Love in Blues, Big Nick, Emergency

– Daniel Krow
 

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