Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Best of Jazz 2012

Every year it is a right of passage that  reviewers compile their "best of" picks from the previous year's crop of offerings  Some reviewers amazingly are able to review hundreds of cds in a year! The pool from which they pick their best of lists are admittedly more extensive than mine, but nonetheless I have heard some fantastic performances both "live" and on cd this year and the ones I have found exceptional certainly deserve recognition, even if its only from me. So in no particular order here is my top picks from 2012
with some links to listen to selections from each album where available. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

 Jack DeJohnette's: Sound Travels                                              
 Check out "Dirty ground"

Kenny Garrett's : Seeds from the Underground
Check Out "Wiggins"
        Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts : An Attitude for Gratitude                                                                         
         Listen to  "The Cruise Blues" 

  Gary Smulyan's : Smul's Paradise
  Listen here to Gary's version of "Sunny"
 Ralph Peterson's: The Duality Perspective
  Listen to "Bamboo Bends in a Storm"
 Vjay Iyer's : Accelerando
 Listen to "Optimism"
       Tom Harrell's : Number 5        
        listen to the beautiful
        "Journey to the Stars"

     John Abercrombie's Quartet : 
     Within a Son
     John and Joe Lovano on "Wise One"
              Scott Robinson's Docette : 
              Bronze Nemesis
              listen here to the eerie "Mad Eyes"
 Carmen Intorre Jr. : For the Soul

      Marc Johnson/Eliane Elias
      Swept Away
      "One Thousand and One Nights"
  Ryan Trusedell's; Centennial : Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans
"The Maids of Cadiz"

     Kathy Kosins: To the Ladies of Cool
     A montage from the album "here"
         Markus Burger Trio: 
         Accidental Tourists                                                                           
         The L.A. Sessions

       Amhad Jamal : Blue Moon
                                                                                        The hypnotic "Invitation"

Michael Campagna: Moments
"Dear John"
        Chad Wackerman: Dreams, Nightmares and Improvisations
         "Monsieur Vintage"
 Jonathan Blake : The Eleventh Hour
 "Time to Kill"
                             Sabrina Lastman: 
                             The Candombe Jazz Sessions

  Tec Nash: The Creep
   Listen to Ted live on "The Creep"
      Torben Waldorff : Wah Wah
       listen to   "You Here"

      Sam Rivers, Dave Holland & Barry Altschul 
      Reunion: Live in New York

                   Bill Evans Trio:
                   Live at the Top of the Gate
                   Promo video "here"
   Chick Corea: Further Explorations
   " Peri's Scope"
                           Wes Montgomery : Echoes of Indiana Avenue
                            Promo video "here"

    Denise Donatelli : Soul Shadows
    Her live version of  "Another Day"

Maybe I am, in the Christmas spirit already but I just listened to two newly received releases that I really enjoyed so let's add these two to the mix:

Jeff Babko : CRUX
"The International Client"

Barry Romberg's Rndom Access : Crab People 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Donny McCaslin at the Firehouse 12

Donny McCaslin at Firehouse 12 photo by Ralph A. Miriello c2 012

The Firehouse 12 is a beautifully converted old firehouse on Crown Street  in downtown New Haven, CT. The converted space now includes a chic lower level bar, a state of the art recording studio and an intimate performing space. Every season, the venue produces a series of Friday night concerts that feature some of today’s most interesting and creative performers in jazz.  Some acts that were featured this year included Ingrid Laubrock, Kris Davis and Tyshawn Sorey’ s Paradoxical Frog,  E.J. Strickland’s Quintet, Dan Tepfler’s Trio and the more mainstream Fred Hersch Trio. The “Live Room,” a 1200 square foot space that seats approximately seventy-five lucky patrons, is where all performances are featured.  It is the intimate nature of this venue that makes it especially rewarding for both the artists and their fans.

On this past Friday evening the Firehouse featured the firebrand saxophonist Donny McCaslin and some old friends playing the music of his latest cd  Casting for Gravity. I recently reviewed this challenging album which finds McCaslin pushing further into the blurred lines between jazz and electronica. You can read my Huffington Post  review here.

On the album McCaslin was joined by the keyboard artist Jason Lindner, the bassist Tim LeFebvre and the drummer Mark Guiliana.  At the Firehouse, McCaslin’s band included the talented pianist Kevin Hays, the bassist Fima Ephron and the drummer Zach Danzinger.
Kevin Hays photo by Ralph A. Miriello c 2012

The group started out with the title track from his new album “Casting for Gravity" a slow brewing song that starts with McCaslin and Hays slowly ruminating on a vamp that then erupts into a more urgent, repeating refrain from McCaslin that is accentuated by some strong syncopated pounding by Danzinger. The refrain eventually ends in just under four minutes, segueing into the powerful “Stadium Jazz.”  At its’ core, this tune is built on a melodic ascending and descending scale played by McCaslin and Hays, which yields to a raucous break-a broken, staccato driven vamp played in unison by soaring tenor, echoing Rhodes keyboard, throbbing electric bass and bombastic drums all executed with surgical-like precision. While the energy level of the group was laudable the unchecked volume of Mr. Danziger’s drums was unsettling.

On McCaslin’s “Losing Track of Daylight” the artful Kevin Hays straddled himself between the grand piano and the Fender Rhodes. Hays single handed runs on the Rhodes came through as muddled to my ears and I was in the second row. The nuances of his solos almost rendered undecipherable, blotted out as the drums overpowered the space. Where on the album Guilliana’s drums are powerful, syncopated partner in the music with well placed rhythmic breaks, Danzinger’s pulse was bombastic, overpowering and awkwardly at times out of sync with the flow. McCaslin, who is a powerful player, seemed oblivious to Danziger’s volume and compensated with his own strength. All subtlty that may have been observable in Hays or Fima’s work was obliterated by Danzinger’s over the top playing.

There is no doubt McCaslin’s music requires a strong rhythmic foundation, but it is incumbent upon a drummer to know the room and play accordingly. The audience for the most part seemed impressed by Mr. Danzinger’s energetic playing. He is a powerful, propulsive drummer who has serious chops, but to my way of thinking he needs to harness his enthusiasm and inject some subtlety especially in a room as intimate as the Firehouse.

McCaslin has a slender, reed-like frame with an innocent, almost schoolboy look, a deceptive appearance that hides the fire that resides within this man. This fire erupted on his next composition “Tension,” a song he composed with his two year old Henry in mind. McCaslin’s music, while taken from life,  has become less lyrical in his most recent offerings and this composition is a case in point. Starting out as a series of repeating honks that rise and fall to a changing beat, the song is a pure exercise in manic, frenzy that leaves you in a state of agitation. McCaslin’s taught face was the picture of tension as he played this song. While it may perfectly represent his state of mind when his two year old is testing him, it did little for me but to make me twitch. 

The final song of the first show was titled “Memphis Redux” and was a from a previous McCaslin album titled Perpetual Motion. The slow burning, funk imbued song was a homage of sorts to influences like Joe Zawinul’s  “Mercy, Mercy Mercy “. McCaslin’s horn took on a distinctive Maceo Parker rasp to it as he dug deep into the soul of the tune. It was nice to hear McCaslin play more recognizably melodic music. Kevin Hays added a  particularly bluesy touch to the keyboard and with Danziger in the pocket on this tune, Hays offered his most creative solo of the night. McCaslin ended the song with a sustained solo exploration that was both lyrical and moving and brought the audience to its feet.

I applaud McCaslin for stretching his boundaries and venturing into more challenging modes of music. He is a fine player who plays with intensity and passion, but perhaps he is sacrificing some of his musicality. I was recently at a Jazz Standard show where I was seated next to two saxophonists who had come to  see Scott' Robinson's latest creative work, Bronze Nemisis. One of the players, who recently saw Donny at a Vanguard show, read my review of Casting for Gravity and later wrote to me in disappointment. that at the Vanguard show he just wanted to yell out “Sing us a song, Donny!”   I remain a fan, but  I too long for McCaslin to show us his more lyrical side more often.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Ron Carter Trio at Nyack Library's Carnegie Room : November 11, 2012

Ron Carter photo by Ralph A. Miriello c 2012

Once again the vibrant Rockland County Jazz and Blues Society has proven its ability to attract world class talent to the small but sophisticated community of Nyack, NY and greater Rockland County. As part of their jazz concert series, that is run in conjunction with The Soiree Society of the Arts and The Nyack Library. Artistic Director Yashar Yaslowitz and the R.C.B.& J. Society’s President Richard Sussman, continue to surprise with some killer talent in marvellously intimate concerts. The Carnegie Room is an especially appealing venue for both the artists and their audiences. The warm,  oak trimmed setting, with its' turn of the century charm, has wonderful acoustic properties that make for special moments.

On this evening, the venerable bassist Ron Carter, celebrated as one of the most recorded jazz bassists of all time, came to Nyack after an admitted thirty year absence. Mr. Carter recalled once playing a now defunct venue that was a part of this Hudson River community decades ago. He was joined by his trio with guitarist Russell Malone and pianist Donald Vega. Mr. Malone played a sunburst Gibson L 5  through a small amp, Mr. Carter played a beautifully burnished what appeared to be ¾ size bass and Mr. Vega was seated at the beautiful black grand piano, a gift generously donated by Yamaha, to this series and the room.

Mr. Carter is a classically trained musician and is an accomplished cellist, as well as a master of the upright acoustic bass. He is a composer of some note as well as an unusually perceptive improviser.  If ever there was a person whose stature and appearance so typified his instrument it would be  Mr. Carter. Elegantly dressed in a handsome tailored suit and tie ( his trio mates were similarly attired),  despite a hoarse voice-the remnants of a cold, Mr. Carter, at seventy-five years young, appears to be in remarkably fit condition. His tall, lean figure embraces the upright bass as an equal. His slender willowy fingers caress the classic lines of his instrument, while at the same time fly fleetingly over its long black fret board with a dancer’s agility. He projects a cool, confident demeanor. There is a sense of intimate familiarity with his instrument, a serenity that only comes from years of practice and performing.

The performance opened with a composition by guitarist Russell Malone titled "Cedar Tree," a tribute to the pianist Cedar Walton. The song has Mr. Carter opening with a pedal-like bass line that allows both Malone and Vega to explore on the groove before it bridges into a scalar form that remind me of “Giant Steps.” Malone’s guitar has that classic Gibson sound, born in the era of the guitar/ organ trio. Mr. Malone cut his teeth with organist Jimmy Smith. His smoothness, that transcends single note playing, makes it seem like his  notes melt together.  He effortlessly moves from chordal work to rapidly executed single note arpeggios. I caught flourishes of George Benson’s  “On Broadway”  during his solo work.  Mr. Vega is a sensitive pianist with a feathery touch. He is of Nicaraguan descent and his story is compelling having studied, when necessary, on a cardboard keyboard to keep in practice when a piano was not available.
Donald Vega, Ron Carter and Russell Malone  photo by Ralph A. Miriello c 2012 

The group covered "Laverne’s Walk" and "Candle Light" both Carter originals that featured some beautifully evocative bass work . His signature style combines slurring, bending, sliding and sustaining notes all used to great effect.  His pizzicato technique is tonally impeccable and he often uses octaves and strumming techniques that are more frequently associated with the guitar than the bass. The only technique he didn't employ on this evening was his arco. All the while the quiet but effective Mr. Malone watched Carter’s movement carefully, adding quick chord strums or single note lines at appropriate times. The simpatico between these two artists was extraordinary.

Mr. Vega occasionally seemed to be the odd man out. His playing delicate, almost Evans-like, with a wonderful floating touch on the keyboard. When the two string players went off to the races it seemed like Vega had a hard time keeping up with them. On parts of  “My Funny Valentine”  there seemed to be a momentary break in communication between Mr. Vega and Mr. Carter.  Carter tried to play in between Vega's lines, but eventually stood down to let Mr. Vega play solo, as they seemed to be going in different directions.

The first set ended with Fletcher Henderson’s’ “Soft Winds “ where Malone settled into rhythm guitar, sometimes providing a bongo like beat, as he tapped his muted strings and the hollow body of his guitar to create the pulse. Later he would play the strings in such a way as to elicit a banjo-like strumming sound that had a Django-like feel.  Mr. Malone's guitar voice has clearly absorbed the tradition with vestiges of Django, Joe Pass, Herb Ellis, Wes Montgomery and George Benson all being present in his own unique voice.  Mr. Carter quickened the beat sending the song into a rapid double-time as he and Malone carried it to a frenetic tempo. Mr. Vega did his best to fill in the voids with a flurry of single-line notes that he had to execute at a ferocious pace. He occasionally employed double handed block chording to great effect. The audience was left in arrhythmic delight and they received a standing ovation.

After a somewhat lengthly intermission the group returned with two Carter originals, "Eddie Theme" and "Parade." Mr. Vega shinded on "Eddie's Theme" as Mr. Carter gave it an Afro-Cuban ryhthm with plenty of room for Mr. Vega to solo using his clave inspired percussive runs on keyboard.

Mr. Carter immediately delved into the next tune, a solo rendition of "You Are My Sunshine"  which was a veritable tutorial of how sensitive a bass can be.

The band completed the second set with a redux of Henderson's "Soft Winds."  It seemed as if Mr. Carter wanted to give Mr. Vega another bite of this apple. Mr. Vega, now fully warned up, rose to the occasion handily providing his own blistering runs over Mr. Carter and Mr. Malone's rollicking romp. The night cap of the evening turned out to be a pleasing finale sending the audience into a sustained standing ovation.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The End of Jazz is Greatly Exaggerated: A Response to Benjamin Schwarz's Atlantic article " The End of Jazz"

As a long time subscriber to the Atlantic monthly, I have often read articles or reviews of books written by their literary and national editor Benjamin Schwarz His observations have been generally well thought out and cogent. His book reviews have offered evaluations on the worthlessness or value of a newly released book that are often consistent with my taste. So when I read his most recent diatribe provocatively titled 
“The End of Jazz,”  a subject of great interest to me, I was greatly surprised and disappointed  by Mr. Schwarz’s spurious conclusions

The article was supposed to be a book review of the recently published book “The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire” by the scholar Ted Goia from Oxford Press. Mr. Goia was my editor in chief at the now defunct web-based jazz magazine where I was a regular contributor. He has written several authoritative works on jazz, including “The History of Jazz” and his fine “West Coast Jazz.,” to name a few, and his opinions carry some weight in the community. I have always found Mr. Goia’s  work to be well researched, informative and eminently readable.

Candidly I have not yet read Mr. Goia’s recent offering, but I understand it to be a collection of some two hundred and fifty songs that he has deemed to be essential to any working jazz musician’s book-a repertoire of songs that are generally accepted as standards that any jazz musician should know. In delineating his choices, Goia takes a valiant stab at codifying what he considers essential to the jazz canon. He uses the frequency of play as his chief criteria for inclusion with some other more minor criteria being factored into this equation. His list, by its nature, becomes a declaration of taste, popularity and substance that transcends time.

In reviewing this book, Schwarz seems to tacitly agree with Mr. Goia’s unequivocal praise for Billy Strayhorn’s poignantly bitter masterpiece “Lush Life,” which Goia lauds as his choice for the single most important song from the twentieth century ( the cover picture of the story is of Strayhorn and Ellington at the piano) . But as anyone who knows the music is bound to do, Schwarz does take the opportunity to air his own taste. He mentions some songs that he feel Goia has unfairly left off his list. These songs include Rodgers and Hart’s “Where and When” three by song-smith Cole Porter  “In the Still of The Night” , “Begin the Beguine “and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”  All  worthy entries and all clearly part of what is known as “The Great American Songbook,” a group of songs that were written predominantly between the 1920s and the 1950’s, and have become a wellspring of inspiration for jazz musicians as a vehicle for improvisation. The choices also say a lot about where Mr. Schwarz’s musical mind has been quagmired, offering a clue to how he has drawn his own personal conclusions about the state of jazz.

The predominance of these songs, from this bygone era, create a moment of careful reflection for Goia, who freely admits to the dearth of contemporary compositions in his version of the repertoire. But where Goia sees promise  “…the  jazz idiom [is] a vibrant present day endeavour ”, Schwarz uses this fact as a raison d'entre for his controversial and misguided assertions. He states  “The Songbook, a product of a fleeting set of cultural circumstances when popular, sophisticated music was aimed at musically knowledgeable adults was the wellspring of jazz.” He continues " “…there is no reason to believe that that jazz can be a living, evolving art form decades after its major source-and the source of that linked it to the main currents of popular culture and sentiments- has dried up. Jazz, like the Songbook, is a relic- and as such, in 2012 it cannot have, as Goia wishes for it, an “expansive and adaptive repertoire.” "

Here is where Mr. Schwarz has gone completely and perilously off the tracks. Does he truly believe that there are no longer, any  " musically knowlegable adults" listening ?  Or perhaps he believes that the music no longer speaks to the audience because it no longer "links [them] to the main current of popular culture and sentiments..."? True enough that some modern jazz requires "work" by the listener before it can be fully appreciated. Does that automatically  un-link it to the main stream of popular culture or does it just expand the culture ever so slightly,  breathing new life and vitality by daring to be adventurous? 

Admittedly the Songbook is an invaluable resource and the basis of many of a jazz musician’s book, but it is not the only resource. Just as the Magna Carta of 1215 AD was the cornerstone for the subsequent U.S. Constitution, which was written over five hundred years later,  the Great American Songbook, is a particularly important part of the the jazz tradition but not its only part. It is certainly premature to claim that reliance on this admittedly dated mother lode of inspiration is the death knoll for future creativity and advancement in the art of jazz.  

It cannot be denied that the Songbook has become the cornerstone of the jazz repertoire, but new music from cabaret, theater, films, world and popular music arenas have always provided a rich vein of new compositions for the jazz musician.

In Its function as a template, the Songbook has become a living, breathing monument to tradition. It is not calcified and decayed, but is constantly being infused with new vitality through repeated explorations. In an interview with Goia on Mark Myers fine blog, , Goia recalled talking to 82 year old saxophonist Bud Shank in 2009 before he passed. Shank told him that even after fifty years of playing the standard “All The Things You Are” he felt that he still hadn't exhausted all the possibilities that a song like that could provide to a sufficiently curious musician. Like the torch carrying the never extinguished Olympic flame, the Songbook is continuously providing the spark that illuminates the way for future generations of musicians while serving as a link to the origins and development of the music. As such it can never be considered a "relic" as Schwarz asserts.

Modern music is constantly evolving and its inclusion into the jazz canon is a process that will occur naturally over time. It may be frustrating for some that the listening public have become inordinately attached to these classics of yesteryear, but it is unwise to characterize the art form as being on terminal life support because its audience is slow to accept change. Jazz does not have a monopoly on the public's resistance to change. Monk was derided for much of his lifetime as a man whose music was curiously out of tune, Even his fellow musicians and critics had trouble with the demands of his compositions. Few musicians or critics today would deny the brilliance of his musical legacy and many of his compositions have become an integral part of the repertoire.
Time is a great healer. Jazz as a distinct art form is barely one hundred years old. Why is it so hard and potentially damning to fathom that the Songbook is still such an important element in its repertoire? 

The listening public must be connected to the music if it is to survive and thrive. It is the modern jazz musician, who as he becomes more daring in his approach to bringing new material into the lexicon, will make the repertoire grow organically. The music of Michael Jackson,  Paul Simon, Sting, Lennon & McCartney or  Kurt Cobain, is certainly more relatable to  younger audiences and  needs to be included in the conversation; explored for its nuances and adaptability to the improviser’s art.

It has happened in the recent past with artist like Miles Davis and George Benson introducing songs by Cyndi Lauper  and Leon Russell and is happening now with artists like Brad Mehldau , George Colligan  and  Ethan Iverson, who have introduced  the music of contemporary artists like Thom Yorke,  Michael Jackson and The Beatles to the repertoire. Other musicians like Robert Glasper, Dave Douglas, John McLaughlin and Rudresh Mahanthappa have successfully attempted to bring soul, hip-hop,fusion,techno and world musicical influences into the pantheon of jazz. Who knows when these influences become a permanent part of the repertoire? Far from being mummified and interred as Mr. Schwarz suggests, jazz is morphing, replicating and mutating.

Perhaps Mr. Schwarz does not embrace this change, perhaps he is stuck in the afterglow of  songs  by Porter, Gershwin or Kern, but to the declare “The End of Jazz” and to relegate it to the status of a “relic”  is an uninformed and just plain wrong and its assertion does little to enlighten the conversation.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pianist Markus Burger's : Accidental Tourists The L.A. Sessions

Accidental Tourist: The L.A. Sessions CR 73332

German expatriate Markus Burger is a new name to me, but if his latest album Accidental Tourists : The L.A. Sessions   is any indication he has won me over as a fan. The pianist has assemble a top notch trio that includes former Bill Evans drummer Joe Labarbera and the big and beautiful bass of    
Bob Magnusson a studio musician who worked with saxophone legend Art Pepper. Burger currently teaches in the Los Angeles area. His bio information indicates that he acknowledges wide ranging influences from Bach and Debussy to Thelonious Monk and Stevie Wonder.

On the opening composition ”Grolnicks,”  a dedication to the late pianist Don Grolnick, Burger establishes an immediate connection to his listener with the song’s inviting melody line, played at first solo and then breezily in conjunction with his tasteful collaborators. Bob Magnusson’s honey toned bass solo is a welcome surprise as it is quickly introduced with a conviction and fullness that reminds me of Red Mitchell’s masterful sound and attack. Drummer Joe Labarbera sets the pace with his masterful brushwork. Burger’s piano has a welcoming and buoyant sound that draws you into this wonderful collaboration.

“Air Canada” has a lilting feel that reminds me of some of Pat Metheny’ s earlier work with pianist Lyle Mays. It is a hopeful song that is energized by Burger’s light and dancing right hand lines and propelled by Magnusson’s deep and prominently featured bass lines. Labarbera reminds us how good and subtle he can be  at creating a breezily swinging rhythm with minimal fanfare or bluster.

Burger uses the repeating ascending and descending lines of his composition “Black Sea Pearl” to create a sense of poignancy. The trio moves up and down in tandem as Burger creates interesting offshoots to the otherwise predictable ostinato pattern in the song.

Full Circle” begins in an almost solemn, contemplative refrain. Burger impressionistically establishes the circularly repeating melody line. Magnusson’s bass anchors strong and clear, the perfect counterpoint to Burger’s probings outside the self created orbit. Magnusson’s bass becomes a beacon of sound that emanates from the center of this crafted circle with his warm, precise tone..Labarbera adds to the circular theme of the song with his whirling traps and his whooshing cymbal work.

The Gershwin classic “I Love You Porgy,” is rendered in the most sensitive of ways by Burger’s soulful playing. Magnusson’s evocative solo is a highlight. The bassist’s  ability to carry the melody with his warm, deep tone and evocative feeling is a joy to behold. Burger, inspired here by his deft partners, creates a cascading solo that is both inventive and moving.

With the title of the album reference to Los Angeles, it’s no surprise to hear the west coast influence peppered through  this offering. Two songs that seem to draw inspiration from the early trio work of the late great LA based pianist Hampton Hawes are the swinging “Rodeo Drive Hustler” and the quirky, rollicking “Inspector Bauton”. The quick paced repeating lines are played effervescently with great swinging support by Labarbera and Magnusson. Both tunes have that easy, effortless mastery of rambunctious swing that Hawes work epitomized. It is good to hear a boisterous drum solo from Labarbera who is a master of brushes and rarely lets loose on his traps.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful songs on the album is the trio’s stirring rendition of “The Old Country,” a song always identified with  Nancy Wilson’s great work with Nat and Cannonball Adderley. Burger uses the armature of the melody to weave his own rich tapestry from this emotionally thick song. Magnusson is once again brilliant in using his facile bass lines to create pathos. His rounded, romantic sound and his counterpoint lines at the coda are both superbly chosen and sublimely executed.

The magnificent Evans composition “Blue and Green” is always a favorite of piano trios and here  Burger uses Evans-like voicings in his opening that eventually give way to explorations that are reminiscent of Keith Jarrett's work. Burger’s fertile imagination is prodded by gentle bent notes from Magnusson’s bass and slowly built up urgency in Labarbera’s traps. It is a wonderful display of true sympathetic trio interaction. Magnusson’s bass solo is  remarkably facile as he shifts from rapidly executed pizzicato  to slowly sustained bent notes that flow like melting butter on warm toast.

The album ends with two songs one by Thomas Hoft titled “One World”  and the finale a Burger composition titled “Morning Smile.”

Markus Burger has managed to pleasantly surprise with Accidental Tourists: The L.A. Sessions.  The album continues to be capture attention even after  repeated listenings. Burger is a player who has absorbed some of the best influences of contemporary and classical music. His musical choice of materials from the standards repertoire is  astute and his compositions like “Grolnicks” and “Full Circle” show promise. It is the sympathetic whole of this trio that is the real find here. Together with Magnusson and Labarbera, Burger has hit upon a trio that can challenge the best on  the contemporary music scene. Accident's do happen and sometimes they produce marvelous results, my hope is that this is no accident and that the Markus Burger Trio continue to work together to explore the endless possibilities.