Gather around, class! Take a seat, maybe even recline a little. Today, we're not just talking theory or history; we're exploring the here and now of jazz with Affinity Trio's debut album "Hindsight." Let me put on my reviewer's hat—or should I say, my reviewer's shades? Let's dig into this.
The Affinity Trio, comprised of Eric Jacobson on trumpet, Pamela York on piano, and Clay Schaub on bass, has embarked on a journey less traveled—dropping the drums for a stripped-down, intimate conversation between three instruments. It's like eavesdropping on Miles Davis, Bill Evans, and Paul Chambers at a New York jazz club, but with its own unique flavor.
Released under the auspices of Origin Records, this album is an intellectual romp and an emotional voyage. Imagine your favorite book that keeps you pondering for days—that's what these tracks do, only they speak in notes instead of words.
Alright, class, let's get into the nitty-gritty details. When it comes to Affinity Trio's "Hindsight," we're hearing a rich curriculum of jazz history and today's jazz sounds. Starting with Jacobson's "Open Windows," the track reveals each musician's technical abilities right off the bat. Jacobson's trumpet isn't just warm; it's masterfully controlled, executing runs and trills that demand attention. York's piano fills in the texture, responding and initiating thematic ideas like a seasoned scholar at a symposium. And let's not overlook Schaub's bass, which provides the harmonic foundation that the other instruments so eloquently dance over.
Following that, we have "Fitzroy" by Schaub. This tune delivers a rhythmic cadence that isn't just interesting; it showcases how well the trio listens to each other. They play with a level of anticipation that's palpable, engaging in call-and-response sections that give the feeling of an academic debate, but a friendly one, where everyone leaves enlightened.
Then there's "Tin Tin Deo," a Latin jazz piece where the absence of drums is barely noticed. York and Schaub collaboratively create a Latin groove so convincing you almost forget it's a trio. The switches between Latin and swing feels are smooth, showcasing their genre versatility. Jacobson's swinging solo is a delight with flowing lines and his magic tone.
"Blues for Change," penned by York, is no less captivating. It's a track where each musician gets to 'blow off some steam,' so to speak. York's solo is rooted in the blues scale but ventures into some chromaticism, displaying a solid grasp of both tradition and innovation. Schaub's bass solo keeps the rhythm driving, proving that melody and timekeeping can happily coexist in the low end.
As for "Theme for Ernie," this ballad is a high point in the album's emotional arc. The trio doesn't just play the changes; they narrate a story. The choice of timbre and pacing makes this track a reflective pause in the middle of an energetic set.
Rounding out the review, the latter part of the album features tunes like "Parisian Poet" and "Hindsight," where the trio again exhibits their creative unity. "Parisian Poet" is a York original that combines harmonic richness with melodic simplicity, resulting in a memorable experience. "Hindsight," named after the album, serves almost like a recap—a thoughtful conclusion to a dissertation, if you will.
So, in sum, "Hindsight" offers a varied yet coherent musical landscape, presented by three musicians deeply in tune with each other. "Hindsight" introduces us to Affinity Trio's promising future, and if this album were a course, you'd be talking about it long after graduation. Study up!