For any who had the pleasure of seeing and hearing Ben Winkelman perform in and around Melbourne in the early 2000's it would seem inevitable that he'd uproot and move himself to jazz music's epicenter in New York. It was equally obvious that Winkelman's composition and approach would continue to draw from myriad stylistic and cultural stimuli rather than simply following the straight piano/bass/drums tradition.
For this latest Ben Winkelman Trio album The Knife we get to hear elements of Latin and South American groove, some laid-back New York cool, driving old-school rhythms and just a few hints to the cheekier side of Winkelman's compositions so evident on previous albums. The Knife marks the first recording for the Ben Winkelman Trio with rising NY drummer Eric Doob alongside recent National Jazz Award winner Sam Anning on bass. Throughout the 13 tracks of this album the rhythm section adroitly struts alongside Winkelman's constantly shifting moods and tempo. The energetic 'Sylvia' possibly gives the best representation of how the individual musicianship of these three players can coalesce into a collective group sensibility. Singling out any one track however probably does a disservice to the overall quality and breadth of this stunning album.
Ultimately The Knife by the Ben Winkelman Trio is an album that sounds fresh and exciting while still being able to satisfy those that revere the classic jazz trio tradition.