Julie Stalmer 8 a.m., Feb. 22
More than the sum of its parts: TrioKinesis @ The Studio
Last night, the cooperative sounding venture known as TrioKinesis delivered two solid sets of post-Coltrane jazz to a small, but captivated audience at Athenaeum Jazz at the Studio.
TrioKinesis proved to be the ultimate equilateral triangle of improvising dynamics. Although saxophonist Eric Person is the most well-known of the three, it was hardly a matter of just sax plus rhythm-section.
Double bassist Joseph Lepore brought me back to the "old-school" aesthetics of solid, independent time, gorgeous, full-tone, and the ability to create lines that resonate in your head.
Drummer Shinnosuke Takahashi was a constant force of inventive delight --a master at volatile poly-rhythms and nuanced dynamics, Takahashi kept a tight stare directed at his band-mates the entire evening--exhibiting a laser-like focus on their intentions.
Lepore began the music alone, with a slippery, singing tone--concentrating on the gravity of open strings and thick double-stops. When he settled on an ostinato--Person's soprano and the kinetic energy of Takahasi's drums filled the room. The saxophonist has developed an admirably unique approach to the straight horn--trilling and bending notes to sculpt the pure intensity of the relentless bass and the drummer's ability to evoke both Elvin Jones and Rashied Ali in motion.
The great thing about this unit is how they are able to transform materials that in the hands of others have become clichés, like the Latin vamp that began Person's "Silver & Gold," into a highly personal language that transcends such devices. Lepore's fierce and muscular lines tethering the groove underneath Takahashi's wicked poly-rhythmic assault and Person's patient melodic abstractions.
Person constructs his solos, (primarily on alto--save for two pieces), carefully--never in a hurry, and always filled with layered thematic variations. He generally avoids screaming and the altissimo register of his horn--making those occasional gestures all the more effective.
On "Beauty Beyond," the spiritual vibrations were set in motion early with the free rubato intro and dramatic soft-mallets-on-skins before Person's dream-like incantation paused to sputter and purr. While Takahashi stroked the drum surfaces with bare hands, Lepore drew from deep lines to sketch a complete story in a solo that brought the great Jimmy Garrison to mind.
Over frantic walking bass, Person hung a vaguely Middle-Eastern tapestry to frame a piece written for the drummer, "Shin." I had never heard of Takahasi before this evening--but his name is burned in my memory banks now. He somehow managed to dial up cycling waves of constant propulsive motion with remarkably pure distillations of ride cymbal pings--always aiming for the heart of the groove.
Over the course of two sets, Person, Lepore and Takahashi approached the developments of the '60s and brought them into bold, modern improvising that made use of dynamics and energy and deep listening.
It was exciting from start to finish--and one of the most rewarding night's of music I can recall.
Photo by Barbara Wise