Triology – Cellar Live CL062113, 51:15 ****: 

(Bill Coon – guitar; Jodi Proznick – acoustic bass; Miles Black – piano)

The piano, guitar, bass combination has been around since the early 1930s when Nat ‘King’ Cole’s Trio first started performing. After World War II, in and around Los Angeles, the Page Cavanaugh Trio had the same makeup, and began to make a name for themselves, but they never really caught on as strongly as Cole’s trio did before it disbanded. Also in the mid to late 1940s, the great pianist Art Tatum had a similarly-configured trio, after which the renowned Oscar Peterson Trio of the early to late 1950s was modelled. In their first release, Triology, this trio iteration is re-imagined and brought up to date in convincing style by some first rate musicians.

In putting together the tunes for this session, the trio decided to capitalize on the strong composing and arranging skills of the members so that more than half the tracks fall into that category. Starting with Miles Black’s tribute to bassist Ray Brown entitled “RayTime,” the opening phrases use a strong bass line from Proznick which carries throughout the tune.  As the piece  unfolds each member shows they are intelligent improvisors, then Proznick delivers a fulsome solo about halfway through the composition. “Morocco” is an interesting number with a repeated opening by Coon and Proznick over which Black introduces a North African-themed melody.

The often-played standard “Sweet Georgia Brown” is given a warm welcome by the band with a strong opening chorus by pianist Black, then guitarist Coon takes over with some smart fingering all of which gives the tune a delightful lilt. Another pleasurable but  well-worn composition, “Pennies From Heaven,” opens with some soft chording from Coon, then he and the group get into a swinging groove that builds from the ground up with everyone making the most of the solo space provided. If you listen closely to the harmonic progressions in this offering entitled “Adanac”(Canada backwards) which was written by bassist Jodi Proznick, the Sonny Rollins composition “Airegin” (Nigeria backwards) comes into focus with some nifty interplay between bass and piano on the opening bars which then shifts into a medium-tempo tune. However this composition is neither as complex or tempo-driven as the Rollins effort. Finally the George Gershwin warhorse “ I Got Rhythm,” whose chord changes spawned hundreds of jazz compositions, is given solid reading by the group, with pianist Black leading the way with  strong solo and setting an example for the rest of the band.

Although this is the group’s first effort, they have developed a comfortable focused sound.

TrackList: Ray Time; Morocco; Broadway And Alma; Sweet Georgia Brown; If I Love Again; Ballad Of The True North; Pennies From Heaven; Adanac; L’Espace; I Got Rhythm

—Pierre Giroux