Barry Green Trio – Almost There
(Moletone005. CD review by Mike Collins)
It all started with a late night email Barry Green explained in a recent interview with LondonJazz News. Returning from a gig, the London based pianist banged off an email to Tom Rainey whom he knew and Drew Gress whom he didn’t, asking them if they wanted to record a trio album with him. By return came two positive replies and the die was cast. A recording session followed in Brooklyn’s legendary System Two recording studio and the results are released now as Almost There to coincide with a national tour by the trio.
In Gress and Rainey, Green chose not only one of New York’s finest rhythm sections but two collaborators who had the musical resources and flexibility to do his eclectic material justice.
There’s a smattering of standards all taking distinctive paths. Bouncing with Bud only reveals itself though the theme at the end, having been thoroughly explored by Gress and Green; Lulu’s Back in Town breezes along, the theme coming and going between bouts of rhythmic jousting and jagged lines from Green; Monk’s Work reels between group improv, sleazy swing and helter skelter, wonky bop. In between there’s a luminous take on Paul Simon’s Train in the Distance the insistent sizzle and colouring from Rainey’s drums somehow evoking the hiss of wheels on rails whilst Gress and Green combine to make the melody sing and sigh. You’ll Never Walk Alone gets a breathless remake without sacrificing any of its emotional force. McCartney’s Her Majesty becomes a frenetic, clattering, free wheeling group conversation, with the melody, distorting and bending to provide a connecting thread. Green’s own originals are equally varied. My Spy is a mosaic like confection of rhythm and stabbing, scrunchy chords. Signals is glittering fragments of riffs and melodic motifs pieced together, the opening title track a sequence of dramatic episodes that gives way to an exuberant, pulsating solo from Green.
This is an album full of twists with the leader ranging from the angular and divergent to the rhapsodic and lyrical. Gress is by turns a propulsive and spacious presence and then riveting soloist. Rainey is restlessly inventive. On this showing Green is a distinctive and creative leader, the trio one we should see more of.