Paul Booth – Trilateral
(Pathway Records PBCD 0103. CD Review by Chris Parker)
Frequently referred to as a ‘first-call’ sideman (his supremely adaptable and reliable saxophone skills have been utilised by everyone from Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton to Jane Monheit and Snowboy), Paul Booth is also a highly respected leader and composer, and Trilateral provides him with an excellent showcase for both these skills.
When he arrived at the age of 33, he started seeing the number three everywhere, so conceived the idea of an album featuring three trios, to play three pieces each, somehow connected with the number (non-originals include Charles Mingus’s ‘Self-Portrait in Three Colours’ and Jaco Pastorius’s ‘Three Views of a Secret’). His first call was to US drummer Clarence Penn, who recommended bassist Matt Brewer, and this trio (‘improvisers from the soul’, according to Booth) demonstrates (as many saxophonists, including – most famously – Sonny Rollins and Joe Henderson, have found over the years) that the pianoless format confers great improvisational freedom on a resourceful player, and can produce (as here, in spades) fiercely interactive, gutsy music.
Booth’s second call was to his regular working band: Ross Stanley (Hammond B3 organ) and Andrew Bain (drums), which – as Booth comments – is characterised by ‘fire and energy’, but also versatile enough to negotiate all the twists and turns of both the aforementioned Pastorius piece (including a brief free-ish passage) and the haunting melodic path of the Mingus composition.
Guitarist Phil Robson and Brazilian percussionist Adriano Adewale make up the third trio, and Booth provides them with a couple of propulsive Brazilian-flavoured themes, plus Nick Drake’s ‘Three Hours’, showcasing his own agile soprano in the process, and blending seamlessly on both saxophones with the consistently subtle Robson over Adewale’s delicate rhythmic patter.
Given the slightly unsettling effect of constant change resulting from the album’s running order (the trios play tracks 1/4/7, 2/5/8, 3/6/9 respectively), listeners may like to reorder the pieces to concentrate on particular trios by turn, but however it’s experienced, Trilateral provides a rich and varied programme centred on the considerable resources of one of the UK’s most accomplished saxophonists.