Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Three Like-minded Souls : Jay Clayton, Frtitz Pauer & Ed Neumeister on "3 For the Road"


3 For the Road : Jay Clayton, Fritz Pauer & Ed Neumeister MeisteroMusic  0020 

Back in January of 2001 and June of 2002, now close to twenty years ago, three like spirits were teaching music in Austria at the University of Performing Arts in Graz and they got inspired. 

Vocalist Jay Clayton, pianist Fritz Pauer and trombonist Ed Neumeister decided to play and record some of their eclectic musical ideas and created this imaginative album. These are all pioneering explorers whose creative drive was to conceive and perform art and hopefully expand musical possibilities. As Clayton said in the liner notes her collaborators were known for playing "in and out."  It is sometimes rare to "feel" the empathetic energy that can flow between musicians as they join in an effort to create but not here. The listener has to suspend reality to some degree and go with the flow to appreciate the creative process going on right in front of them. This is just one of those serendipitous times when the stars were aligned and the music was exceptional. As Neumeister related "Magic in music, especially in improvisatory music, happens when everybody totally trusts each other so that the individuals merge into a separate living organism." 

The album is a snapshot in time of what these three like-minded souls were able to achieve as a trio back then. Fritz Pauer, the pianist who at this time was known as "the" avant-garde pianist in Austria and who in the sixties who had played with Booker Ervin, Art Farmer, and Dexter Gordon, died suddenly in July of 2012. It is a gift that Pauer's sensitive playing with these two musicians is preserved and released for posterity and for our endless enjoyment.

The album includes four compositions that were composed collectively and free-improvised by the group, The scatty  "Love is a Place," was inspired by an ee cummings poem. The conversational "Fun" is just that, a musical joy. The ethereal and expressive "Gobblers Nob" is a not miss gorgeous improvisation and one of my favorite tunes on the album.  "May I Go" and "Yak'n" finish off the experimental selections where piano, trombone and voice join to create a moving feast of musical expression. Clayton's voice is supple and expressive and Neumeister's animated trombone can evoke crying voices, gurgling slurs, or sighing expressiveness. Pauer's rubbing of the strings on his piano creates another tonal feature. The trio offers a wild ride on the percussive "Badadadat."  

For the more identifiable melody anchored listeners, Clayton's voice is gorgeously expressive in Mancini's "Two for the Road" and her almost musical cabaret-like take on Burke and Van Heusen's "It Could Happen to You"  is a treat.

Be open, explore, and take the time to enjoy and be swept up by the inventiveness and audaciousness of this mostly progressive music and these talented musicians on 3 For The Road.

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