Gabriel Latchin Trio – Introducing Gabriel Latchin Trio
(Alys Jazz AJ1501. CD review by Mike Collins)
Gabriel Latchin wears his inspirations clearly on his (CD) sleeve with this fiercely swinging, accomplished debut. The self-penned liner notes name-check his declared influences (From Tatum through Bill Evans, Cedar Walton, Phineas Newborn, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock and on) and draw our attention to the deliberate Bill Evans visual quote on the album cover: It’s a seated portrait of a relaxed, sharp-suited Latchin looking into the camera.
The trio, with Tom Farmer on bass and Josh Morrison on drums, really digs in and whip up the energy, but there’s plenty of attention to detail. There’s a selection of lovingly arranged standards and a sprinkling of Latchin originals.
Latchin’s own Carlora kicks things off with an ear-grabbing riff, oscillating between two stabbed chords. I half expected the Mingus Big Band to roar in, but a neatly crafted, hooky theme, followed by contrasting, mazy, boppish phrases nodding at Phineas Newborn, launch a sizzling solo. Farmer and Morrison drop straight into an electrifying, propulsive groove, an energy that infuses the whole set. There’s a strong tinge of rich, locked hand voicings and bluesey inflections throughout.
Lover Man and If Only I Had A Brain get the full treatment, the rhythm section reveling in the steadily pulsing tempo. Familiar themes are sculpted to bring melodies to life. It Had To Be You gains stops and rippling arpeggios to emphasize the contours, Stomping at Savoy a rollicking, boogy-like left hand. Both burst into driving swing.
Trane Hopping is a Latchin blues with a more modal edge. Blues for Billy a dedication to drummer Billy Higgins, has an easy, infectious flow. Two solo pieces, Lush Life and Can’t We Be Friends give Latchin the chance to stretch out and give a flavor of his stylistic range from rhapsodic interpretation of the famous Strayhorn theme to viscerally grooving, bluesy stride on the second piece.
This is a striking debut, with Latchin embracing the feel of a classic piano trio with zest. The ensemble performance is full of life, a thoroughly enjoyable listen.