Black Hills, by Tad Britton includes a few originals, and a number of Pop classics not often, if ever, covered by a Jazz conflagration and, oh yes, a couple of Jazz numbers by classic writers. Bassist Jeff Johnson is hip, agile, and a great soloist. Tadd plays drums like he was born to play in a piano trio - he's busy enough to pull his weight in the threesome and can really play great time. Pianist Marc Seales has a superior linear sense and, yes, harmonic sophistication.
Bill Evans' gem "Time Remembered" is lovingly re-created with a nice swinging rhythm section. This is not slavish copying of Evans. Seales is more linear and his chordal build-ups are different. They drive in a post Tyner, post-Corea way without using the same structures. George Duke's "Love Reborn" shows Seales fillled with energy and momentum, yet lyrical in a post-Jarrett way. "Fire and Rain," that James Taylor song. It is played as slow Rock. The head is taken fairly straight with country-sanctified Jarrett-Guaraldi-like voicings. The solo begins in the same mode, then builds. The bass solo that follows is hip, and then there is a vamp like the Jarrett trio sometimes does. But it all comes off. "Ring of Fire" has a similar approach. Again, it works. "Dark Kiss" is Johnson's ballad and it's pretty. "Red Drum" gives the drummer come, as the expression goes. He does fine. The tour de force for me is Steve Swallow's "Falling Grace." Its straight eight quasi-Bossa-Rock rhythms set up another nifty bass solo and then Seales launches into a dramatically two-handed solo of kicking block chords and lines. The tune concludes with some breaks and short but choice solo by Britton. All very cool.
My reaction to this CD is pretty excellent.