Friday, March 16, 2012

The Danny Fox Trio The One Constant Songlines 2011

The Danny Fox Trio - The One Constant.

The one true constant for most critics is our aversion to thinking outside the box. When in doubt the "free jazz" label is quickly attached and we then crank out a few quick paragraphs on how deep and brooding the artist must be figuring no one will take the time to follow up and we move on. The debut release from The Danny Fox Trio is not your stereotypical piano trio and that's puts most critics as well as label executives on edge immediately. Tagged as chamber jazz there is a definite tip of the hat to the more traditional classical mindset but with a more forward thinking jazz sensibility for a decidedly more open ended approach.

The unique if not ironic quality to The One Constant is the constant and often subtle changes of dynamics and harmonic invention. A subtle undercurrent of lyrical progression but in a more abstract state. Melodies are vibrant, harmonic boundaries are challenged and there is a clear sense of melodic purpose yet the compositions are at times darker, bold and emotionally charged. A myriad of influences makes up the individuals here and this diversity is clearly translated into their craft. Opening with "Next Chapter" the undeniable percussive pulse coupled with Fox's harmonic progression creates a compelling dynamic tension that is immediately shifted into the more bare bones approach used in their compositions as these are more closely compared to sonic parameters as these are tunes with no heads. "Sadbeard" is best described as a melancholy sonic exploratory resembling a ballad as Fox reinvents the more familiar European classical sound with the avant gard improvisational idea of possibly forging his own mental jazz collective of sound. Fox mentions Monk as a predominant influence and here that influence is unmistakable. "Badhouse Guest" is again an odd metered piece with unique changes that set up the dynamics of lyrical motion and progression with purpose.  

Adventurous, inventive and compelling finds The Danny Fox Trio as one of the more formidable trios to watch in the coming year. There have been a few that make the attempted relateable comparison to The Bad Plus. To relate or compare The Danny Fox Trio with The Bad Plus is a feeble attempt at an oversimplification of music that transcends strict categorization but instead takes on an organic pulse of its own floating aimlessly but never without distinct purpose between the conventional and the inspired.

Tracks: Next Chapter; Trudge; Easily Distracted; Fables End; Sadbeard; The Icebox; Bad Houseguest; Even Tempered; Drama King; Roquette; Room 120; The One Constant.

Personnel: Danny Fox: piano; Chris Van Voorst Van Beest: bass; Max Goldman: drums.