Saturday, January 12, 2013

Pamela Hines 3.2.1 Spice Rack 2013

 Preconceived notions and running out of coffee are the Achilles heel for most critics. I have to admit that having reviewed over 50 piano trios in the past year alone, predictability may make for a nice riff on George Gershwin, Cole Porter, or even Herbie Hancock with the culmination as something you may hear in one of your finer hotels cocktail lounges.

Pamela Hines are her latest release 3.2.1 are proof positive that one should never judge a book by it's cover. Standards may be the backbone but with stellar arrangements and Yoron Israel on drums and Dave Clark on bass and they are on point every step of the way. While having never seen Pamela Hines live it would not be reaching to say her skills at the piano bench are key in making what could be an ordinary yet talented trio recording into an extraordinary and highly entertaining trio. Thanks to the dynamite arrangements here it is easy to imagine Hines working group as a real ensemble and not Hines working as a potted plant with bass and drums.

Hines tackles two Bill Evans covers but not a riff on the legendary harmonic master instead she would simply seem to allow Evans harmonic influence to guide her harmonic sense of purpose as she establishes her own distinct artistic voice. While Evans was more of a two handed pianist than most realize, Hines has taken to a slightly more organic approach, contemporary yet old school in nature. The Evans tunes "34 Skidoo" along with "B Minor Waltz" and "Loose Blues" are reborn and a reminder of what true artistic interpretation is all about. This particular trio has an all most live quality to this recording, especially with the solo standard of "I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry." For the curious the aptly titled 3.2.1 refers to the combination of performances here with trio, duo and solo arrangements making this top of the line piano jazz. As a composer for vocalists, Hines hits on the cerebral as her compositions are complex yet they are deceptively accessible.

Clark is a first call lyrical bassist and Yoron Israel rounds off an impressive rhythm section with finesse and the ability to play musical conductor without every overshadowing Clark or Hines. Far more than a human metronome, Israel is a driving force in the lyrical excursion Hines takes on 3.2.1

To be perfectly honest, piano trios have become tired, predictable and in some cases down right boring with the same handful of artists running through the same set list of standards with no real lasting effect. Hines is an artist that has the gift of a natural and incredibly organic ebb and flow and 3.2.1 is exceptional on virtually every level.

Tracks: 34 Skidoo; B minor Waltz; Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most; East of the Sun; Loose Blues; Sangre Joven; If You Could See Me Now; Loose Blues (alt. take); I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry.

Personnel: Pamela Hines: piano; Yoron Israel: drums; Dave Clark: bass/