Monday, March 3, 2014

John Hebert Trio, Floodstage

When a bassist of the stature of John Hebert steps out as a bandleader with his own album, his sheer inventiveness means you should not assume what to expect. As it turns out, not surprisingly, you get something worthwhile, and that is a given, but it is not in any way routine either.

This outing, Floodstage (Clean Feed 290), is for piano trio. Benoit Delbecq is on piano but also spices things up with the addition of analog synths on the first two cuts and also the last one. Gerald Cleaver turns in a strong performance on the drums. And of course John is on double bass.

It's a free-wheeling open trio sound they get, with some nicely turned compositions by Hebert, one by Delbecq and a spiritual.

There's plenty of room for Hebert's magnificent bass obbligatos, which are worth listening to alone. Delbecq gives us a post-Paul-Bley harmonically rich outness that's a pleasure to hear with this trio.

Beautiful, subtle balladry mixes with some rock-tinged acoustics, some very cool muted-prepared piano on "Saints" and "Sinners" and the whole thing ends with a free, uptempo corker with excellent space for Gerald, "On the Half Shell".

You go away from this one smiling. Because, hey, this is high art!

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