(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

CD review - Project Trio, Winter in June (2007)

The world is full of surprises and the Project Trio is one of the more interesting ones. They're an experimental jazz trio, with a unique twist on chamber music lineup: Eric Stephenson plays cello, Peter Seymour plays bass, and Greg Pattillo performs beat box flute. Imagine something like Ian Anderson's flute vocalizations from Jethro Tull, but more percussive. The overall soundscape is an interesting balance between the bottom heavy strings and the more piercing flute. In general, the flute tends to dominate, but Stephenson manages to wrest the focus a few times.

The music is jazz-centric, with elements of progressive rock and blues. Over the course of Winter in June, Project Trio varies the rhythm, mood, and style. There are sonic sound-checks from a variety of artists, like the Kurt Weil (Alabama Song) vibe of The Moon Over the Ruined Castle, the Tom Waits elements of Semuta, and various bits of Jean-Pierre Rampal and Claude Bolling (noted jazz classical artists).

The title track, Winter in June, is quite evocative, with light percussion and a stark, moody feel. The creaking of winter is evident, but it's harder to find the June. It's a well constructed piece, but all too short as it drifts into a premature fade.

Interlude: 2nd Happiest Song in the World is a bluesy jazz piece that lets the cello shine with an exotic Indian style riff over a beat box line and flute accents. The bass and cello mesh perfectly. The bridge gives the flute some room to break loose, so the song is balanced as a whole.

The high point is Interlude: Tribal, which rolls through a number of shifts. It starts out with a stately procession centered on the cello and bass. This slides into a syncopated cello solo that feels like a focused intent, before slipping into a squirming cello deconstruction. The flute takes over with a sassy jazz section. The rhythmic drive during the flute solo creates a higher energy. Tapping percussion rolls us back to the original processional feel. It's nice piece of sonic art.

Winter in June is pleasant little trip nicely paired with a cinnamon iced tea - just a little bite to get your attention.

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