Toby Koenigsberg grew up in Eugene, Ore. where he's now an assistant professor of jazz piano at the University of Oregon. He received his master of music degree from Eastman, and then pursued graduate studies at the Peabody Conservatory.
Jason Palmer, the trio's drummer, has been associated with Koenigsberg for 15 years, when they formed their first musical group. Bassist Tyler Abbot completes the trio, which has been active for three years and works out of Eugene.
The CD's liner notes use the term "eclectic" to define this group's style, choice of music and arrangements (the latter all done by Koenigsberg). The definition is accurate.
Six composers wrote the tunes for this release. New York City trumpeter Andre Canniere contributed "13th Species" and "Realizing," the "furthest out there" selections: varied rhythms and dissonances, with each member of the trio going his own way. "My Foolish Heart" is the only number played (and beautifully) as a straight ballad.
Two tunes written by bop pianist Bud Powell - "Oblivion" and "So Sorry Please" - are recognizable; althought they're given a post-modern wax-job, they both (almost) swing. Bill Evans wrote the lovely "Show Type Tune," and the trio takes credit for the two short takes of "Stellaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa," which is used as kind of a break betweeen traccks. Koenigsberg wrote the final track, "Variant Strain."
This is not music to dance to, nor is it good background music. It demands attention and the listener's silence if it's to be enjoyed, and I'm affraid that the potential audience falling into that category will be limited.
That said, the musicians are excellent. Koenigsberg uses the entire keyboard, which may not be everyone's cup of tea, and he's faster than lightning. Abbot plays a lot of bass and, on the few tunes that provide the opportunity, lays down a rock-solid beat. Palmer certainly knows his instrument, but I'm not a fan of drum lines that overlap the melodies being played by other instruments. Again, that's personal taste.
If you like this kind of music, and want to get away from standard, straight-ahead jazz, then this CD may light your fire.
I only got a few sparks.