Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Michael Gallant Trio Completely Gallant Music 2013

Good piano trios are a dime a dozen. Even good 4tets that feature pianists are far from an endangered species but  something wonderful is happening to the piano trio and Michael Gallant is helping forge a new sound for what has become a tired, predictable and all be it boring vibe of the sterile jazz standard that makes one long to hear those two most important words "last call."

On Feb. 12th Gallant will drop a new trio record aptly titled Completely. Don't get me wrong, in the last two years Chick Corea, Ahmad Jamal and literally half the ECM catalog has left us with amazing piano music but...somewhat sanitized for your protection. Michael Gallant is part of  the new breed of pianists that are combining idioms of jazz, soul, and blues with some more adventurous alternative rock phrasings and forging ahead with their own artistic voice that is breathing new life into what had evolved into "piano jazz" where one spends their rent money hoping to score on a far more musical level and instead leaves with nothing more than foggy memories and a self inflicted hangover. Rounding out this formidable trio we find the under rated and under appreciated soul pumpkin Linda Oh along with the rhythmic glue that pulls it all together in drummer Chris Infusino who never plays in the pocket - he is the pocket.

Opening Completely we have a soulful bit of jazz nasty "Greens." A tune that comes from a place far deeper than the soul but with a deceptively subtle finesse and this sets the table for a jazz smorgasbord. Gallant succeeds where most artists fail, as a cultural by product of his own experience he has the uncanny ability of taking different voices and influences and creating his own musical road less traveled. The organic and incredibly soulful vibe of Greens may well be the star of the show here. Nothing forced. Nothing over produced. Nothing pretentious. A righteous trio that is as tight as they come and leaves you longing for a complete release of similar material. Diversity rules on Completely with an opening funked out bass line from Linda Oh who works hand in glove with drummer Infusino on The Real Maria. Gallant fills in the soulful piano voicing and again we have another track that stays with you long after the final note. There are two types of pianists and they are what I call the "bangers" (McCoy Tyner etc.) and those that approach the music with a touch more finesse (Herbie Hancock, Ahmad Jamal etc.). With Gallant we have a banger with style. Straight ahead jazz done with a new contemporary attitude. "Love You Better" is a gorgeous piece with a harmonic flow that hits both the visceral and cerebral and hits them hard. Even the Eddie Vedder cover of "Go" is certainly "rock star" and on point every step of the way.

As a critic I may go through a thousand or more releases a year. Michael Gallant's Completely would make my desert island list of discs to take if faced with the burden of limited space. This my friends is the future of jazz. Fresh, invigorating, progressive - there are simply not enough positive adjectives to list here. The perfect piano trio? Top 3 easy! Gallant, Oh, and Infusino bang out a real winner for 2013. To find anything critical to say would be absurd.

Tracks: Greens; Roundabout; Lightbulb; Go; Cornelia Street Tango; Problem With The Game; The Real Maria; Completely; Love You Better; Candlelight.

Michael Gallant: piano, (acoustic & electric); Linda Oh: bass (acoustic & electric); Chris Infusino: drums.