4 1/2 STARS
Experimentation in the instrumental makeup of jazz ensembles has been with us for decades. Groups such as Gerry Mulligan's piano-less ensemble and drummer-less groups such as those of Django Reinhardt, Roy Hargrove, and Marvin Stamm's fine "Inventions Trio" come to mind. The format of this terrific album is such that the drummer gets a much-needed respite. As such, each player—trumpeter, pianist, and bassist—is rendered both free and constrained as relates time. While not addition by subtraction, the spotlight is on the remaining trio—and they shine bright.
"Open Window," an original from trumpeter Eric Jacobson, opens the ten track bop-focused session. It is a swinging cooker in which Jacobson tastefully runs the melody before taking off on a finely constructed solo. Pianist Pamela York and bassist Clay Schaub follow with their own exciting rides. They shine here and across the entire date. "Fitzroy" has trumpet and piano duetting on the unique melody while Schaub independently struts. The trumpet-piano duet is a slick compositional trick which works so well here. The Afro-Cuban classic, "Tin Tin Deo" drives hard, with piano stating heartily before Jacobson's lovely horn covers the melody. When the groove moves to straight-ahead, then joy explodes. This is a highlight track among many here.
Jacobson has done his listening homework. With a supremely classic hard bop tone flowing from his vintage Conn Connstellation (Tom Harrell plays that axe, too.), Jacobson has a fencer's flair for line, range, and texture. He is certainly a player imbued in the hard bop tradition and is worthy of greater exposure. Catch his expressiveness on York's "Parisian Poet." Pianist York is a wonderfully tasteful and swinging player. Her solos are marvelously well-developed and her comp skills add to the entire package. Schaub is a bassist who can pluck strings with the best of them. The camaraderie across this session is both subtle and palpable.
"Blues for Change" offers York, soulful on a nice solo. Catch bassist Schaub's hard-swinging walk here. He is deadly. York's solo offers tasty block chords and lively slaloms. Unlike some modern young trumpeters who over-aggressively strive for "faux soul," Jacobson defies and stands out from that crowd with a maturity and depth far beyond his years in the game. John Coltrane's touching "Theme for Ernie" is a toast with great tonal butter. Jacobson's ballad chops are superb and draw listeners into his horn's bell and deep into his soul. He has mastered the ballad art. York follows with a lovely and equally tasteful solo. Bird's "Bongo Beep," is a straight-out bop burner on which bassist Schaub doubles the head with trumpet and soars after Jacobson bops. York adds flames after. It is a stone cooker. The title track is a textural endeavor featuring Schaub's explorations. Bird's "Segment" closes the session leaving listeners equally sated, yet desiring more music from this fine trio.
"Hindsight" is a superlative aural outing. It is 20-20, especially with eyes wide shut.