Saturday, October 5, 2013

Marc Cary Focus Trio Four Directions Motema 2013

If John Coltrane played piano, he would sound like Marc Cary.
Brent Black /

While the analogy of Coltrane sounding like Marc Cary might seem overly simplistic, Four Directions finds both Cary and the Focus Trio harmonically focused but with the ability to manipulate sounds and silence to their creative advantage. Listen to the notes they don't play. The modern evolution of perhaps the most innovative piano trio since Bill Evans turned the improvisational world upside down with his visionary use of lyrical harmonic development finds Marc Cary at the very top of his game.

Four Directions is the manifestation of an organic pulse of undulating rhythms and the cross cultural grooves of a global beat. Dissecting a release of this magnitude is a daunting task given the amazing diversity of sound created through a unification of the western improvisational music we refer to as jazz and the more traditional Indian classical music such as with the tune "Todi Blues." Conversely we move to a slightly more straight ahead composition dedicated to the great Betty Carter, "Waltz Betty Waltz." Carey describes this particular tune as "tasty" and this would be the classic undersell. An elegant sophistication of color and texture is fitting for one of the leading ladies of modern jazz vocals and embraces the tradition of the past but with a lyrical intensity of what may be just ahead. "Ready or Not" is a buoyant swing of high octane melody that takes no prisoners. Sameer Gupta reinforces the blatantly obvious that he may well be the most underrated drummer on the planet today. Rashaan Carter and Burniss Earl Travis II are both highly respected bassists and are the epitome of perfection as the lyrical soul pumpkins that bind this ensemble together on this most auspicious release.

Four Directions has Cary assuming the role of musical chameleon as he deftly moves from piano to synth and rhodes creating colors you can hear and introducing meticulous rhythmic intricacies seldom heard in similar formats. For Cary, I suspect the piano may serve as a pressure valve for his soul as he is a modern day visionary of indigenous organic roots. The Focus Trio has never followed the conventional path as this is the first studio release in eight years having released two critically acclaimed back to back live recordings. This is Marc Cary's year as Four Directions comes on the heels of his spectacular solo release, For The Love Of Abbey. Four Directions is a conceptual release on a spiritual tip, the zen like art of being grounded. Marc Carey is indeed an artist comfortable in his own skin. We should all be so lucky!

Tracks: Todi Blues; Waltz Betty Waltz; He Who Hops Around; Open Baby; Tanktified; Boom; Ready Or Not; Spectrum; Indigenous; Outside My Window.

Personnel: Marc Cary: Piano, Sameer Gupta: Drums, Tabla; Burniss Earl Travis II, Rashaan Carter: Bass