Third Base Line is a delightfully apt title for Gillespie's third release as a leader. A formidable trio that does far more than just play between the lines, this is a trio of note that takes full command of every line on the musical staff while performing with a zen like precision where notes are not wasted but instead cherished.
The standard jazz trio of piano, bass and drums is the epitome of the tried and true. Find three players that know the changes, have not met a Gershwin tune they didn't like and then pick up a quick check on it's on to the next gig. Gillespie's trio moves past the superficial if not self indulgent world of standard piano jazz to a set of tunes that are not simply played in the moment, they become the moment and are nice enough to let us tag along for the ride.
Noticing before the first listen that half of Third Base Line consisted of original material there was an immediate air of comfort in knowing this was the work of an artist and an educator and not a second rate lounge act looking to make a quick buck riding on the coat tails of other artists. Some of the more familiar standard tunes include "What Is This Thing Called Love" and "Star Dust" where both numbers are presented with fresh arrangements, a harmonic ingenuity to make old school come alive as new cool while disrespecting neither Cole Porter or Hoagy Carmichael but instead playing to the prodigious talents of Gillespie and the marvelous trio of Jeremy Allen on double bass and Jason Tiemann on drums. "Danabar" is a Gillespie original, an exquisite ballad that while perhaps borders on the more wistful side, never allows the melancholy to overtake an effortless free flowing tune in a direction it simply doesn't belong. "Tokaido Line" is another Gillespie originial that moves with a lyrical sense of purpose and captivating harmonic development.
Third Base Line covers all the bases perfectly. From a more post modern to an older school steeped in tradition and respect, Luke Gillespie hits a home run. Jeremy Allen's work on double-bass is as inspiring as any you may hear and drummer Jason Tiemann is perhaps the most underrated drummer working the scene today,
Textured layers, subtle nuances of harmonic development, creative dynamic interplay all come together to make Third Base Line one of the better trio recordings you may ever come across.
Tracks: I'll Never Be The Same; Take Me Out To The Ball Game; High and Inside; Moving Mists; What Is This Thing Called Love; Star Dust; Danabar; Tokaido Line.
Personnel: Luke Gillespie: piano; Jeremy Allen: double bass; Jason Tiemann: drums.
Luke Gillespie is the Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at Indiana University Bloomington.
Gillespie is also an avid baseball fan making Third Base Line an incredibly appropriate title.