Trio 02-21-19 (1)

Mike Collins / londonjazznews

And I Love Her

In a recording studio somewhere, the drummer drops into a groove: a ghost of a backbeat; a shuffling, even quavered, funky vibe, punctuated by propulsive kicks. Joey Baron has got their attention. Drew Gress adds pushy little bass figures and they’re cooking. Marc Copland’s listening. I imagine him with eyes closed and head tilting back before draping a few chords over the now pulsing bass. The harmony makes them seem to bend and warp, before Copland finds a choppy, repeating riff that skips between gaps in the bass line. It’s utterly infectious. The recording space is in New York and this is Mitzi & Johnny from the trio’s new release And I Love Her. It’s a spontaneous moment, the locked tight but relaxed togetherness notwithstanding, and so good they couldn’t leave it off the final release. This trio finish each other’s sentences. They’re long standing collaborators in different contexts and, famously, joined John Ambercrombie as a unit on two ECM albums in the latter part of his career. Their loose, organic feel whilst remaining totally together suited Abercrombie perfectly. On this album it’s applied to an eclectic range of sources. A free-wheeling group conversation led by the bass evolves into Afro Blue, which gets the full Copland treatment, reshaping often distorting harmony on the fly, seemingly led by the shape of the melody rather than any underlying form. Cantaloupe Island get’s a makeover. There’s plenty of drive, but an introspective edge and unpredictable spiraling lines weave a different kind of spell. Figment, a Gress composition has the air of tone poem, provoking meditative, abstract solos. Might Have Been and Day and Night, Copland compositions, have a strong melodic content and bounce along with solos flowing freely. They close the set with a Cole Porter tune, You Do Something To Me, swinging irresistibly. Copland alternates between single, twisting lines and fuller, shifting and flowing harmony. This is music that catches the attention with a muted intensity and then insinuates its beauty into the consciousness without being too direct. It’s acoustic trio jazz that sets a standard and these three musicians are without peers when it comes to weaving a spell. A top drawer album from a unique band.

Mike Collins is a pianist and writer based in Bath, who runs the jazzyblogman site. Twitter @jazzyblogman

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