A very pleasant surprise and joyful treat to hear this trio without bass and drums. Three of the most able-bodied, spontaneous communicators in Jazz converse through six originals and five covers. "Signals" begins with Kevin Wood's beautifully written "Few Regrets". A rubato opening with John Stowell's pristine nylon string melody statement leads to a strong chord progression intro. Kevin Woods takes over the melody and then takes the first solo. Kevin's clear tone, sense of rhythm and phrasing is so beautifully born from what's happening around him. Miles Black fills the air with a full bodied, soulful accompaniment and then moves into a wonderfully melodic solo. John has the final solo, weaving magically through the changes as he dances seamlessly with Miles. "Peri's Scope" is an energetic version of Bill Evans tune that starts with everyone soloing together. The skill of listening to one another is perfectly executed here as all three musicians turn in outstanding performances. The interplay between the guitar and piano is especially moving, bringing back the voices of the Jim Hall, Bill Evans sessions. The melody is then stated wonderfully at the last chorus.
There are too many great moments on "Signals" to list. The originals by Kevin Woods and Miles Black are outstanding. John's use of the fretless baritone guitar is an extra special treat. This is an instrument you hardly ever hear and it can play the role of guitar and bass. Add in the fact that it's fretless and you have a sound that's awesomely unique, not to mention the uniqueness of the person that's playing it!
My biggest takeaway from "Signals," is that as listeners, we all to often become accustomed to listening to music in a certain format. In a way the fact that "Signals" doesn't have bass or drums is what makes it so intriguing . I believe it challenges the players to dig down, say more and do it in a different way. "Signals" is a joyous celebration of interplay and conversation.