May 24, 2024

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CD review: Ignasi Terraza – Unusual Trio 2022: Video, CD cover

The Unusual Trio, explore the trio formation without bass, showcasing the powerful left hand of Terraza, the multi-instrumentalism of Cunningham, and a resulting groove, fresh and light, with a repertoire firmly rooted in the jazz tradition ranging from Swing to Hard – Bop.

For his recent release on the Spanish Swit label, pianist Ignasi Terraza decided to feature what he called an “unusual trio” with Adrian Cunningham on clarinet, tenor and flute, and drummer Esteve Pi.

Actually the bassless trio is less unusual than it seems. Trios of this nature were common in the 1920s and ’30s (most notably the Benny Goodman Trio with Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa) with the pianist’s left hand keeping time and often stating bass lines. Although it became rarer after the rise of bebop due to the change in piano styles, leading to the inclusion of the string bass being considered essential for the role of stating the beat, in avant-garde jazz a bassist is not always utilized. There have also been many duet recordings during the past half-century that have a pianist joined by a horn.

More unusual is the repertoire that this group utilizes on their CD. Terazza, a top jazz pianist from Spain and one who often teams up with singer Andrea Motis, shows on this set that he can play quite inventively in styles ranging from stride to hard bop. Besides writing his humorous column for The Syncopated Times, Cunningham is a very talented musician who displays his own original voice on three instruments while Pi is an expert time keeper who makes the most of his occasional breaks.

On this recording, there are a few numbers with Cunningham on clarinet that recall the Benny Goodman Trio (most notably “Stompin’ At The Savoy”), a spirited version of Fats Waller’s “Handful Of Keys,” and warm renditions of “The Man I Love” (taken as a slow ballad with Cunningham at his warmest on tenor), “I’ll Never Be The Same,” and “Mood Indigo.” But in addition the trio explores Oscar Peterson’s exciting “Cakewalk,” plays some bossa nova, performs three of the pianist’s inventive originals, and interprets pieces by Neal Hefti, Thad Jones, Ray Bryant, and Horace Silver. Cunningham’s flute playing is pretty modern, his tenor is in the swing era tradition, and his clarinet covers several different styles. A special bonus is Miriam Guardioro’s fine vocal on the closing “O Grande Amor.”

While constantly filled with what Whitney Balliett called “the sound of surprise,” the music on The Unusual Trio is consistently satisfying.

Playing in trio without bass it is a challenge that I wanted to face time ago. I think, it’s more demanding than playing in duo with a horn or singer, which I have done frequently last years. I think we reached a point where you don’t miss the bass, the rhythm section grooves intensively, and the solos are free, not luck for keeping the time on the left hand of the piano through different styles and tempos. I think all of us have learned on this challenge. I didn’t decide to start this trio till I found the wright musicians for it. On the drums I have chosen Esteve Pi, with whom we are playing together for more than 15 years and we know each other very well. On the horn, I was looking someone who could play consistently on modern and classic jazz and double with clarinet, sax, and flute. And when I meet Adrian Cunningham, I had the sensation that: he is my man,- an interview with me said Ignasi Terraza.

01. Cakewalk
02. A Free Karma
03. Stompin’ At The Savoy
04. Jo Vinc
05. The Man I Love
06. Scoot
07. Handful of Key
08. I’ll Never Be the Same
09. The Hamelin Waltz
10. Thad’s Pad
11. Splittin’
12. Mood Indigo
13. Opus de Funk
14. O Grande Amor

Ignasi Terraza – (piano)
Adrian Cunningham – (clarinet, tenor sax, flute)
Esteve Pi – (drums)
MG – (vocals on track 14)

New CD – 2022 – Buy from here

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