Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Toby Koenigsberg Trio Drift NinnJazz 2014

Toby Koenigsberg Trio - Drift

The Toby Koenigsberg Trio makes a statement of sublime sophistication.

Brent Black /

Less is always more. There is a zen like approach of Drift that transcends the modern jazz piano trio. Rich harmonies, odd metered compositions and a lyrical sense of purpose  all move past the predictable piano trio but nothing is ever over the top. Simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication. These are far more than pretty melodies as Koenigsberg is certainly as technically proficient as he is artistically gifted. The trio works as a collective and not merely a pianist and a handful of after thoughts.

"Song For Aki" is an odd metered aggressive swing that still maintains a nice accessibility yet pushes the trio forward as the lyrical conversations unfold. Drummer Jason Palmer takes in the pocket to the next dimension. "Satellite" is another odd metered gem with a vibrant harmonic movement and a somewhat nuanced blues feel running below the surface. "Strung Out Again" is a cerebral deconstructed swing which seems oddly reassembled with some nuanced blues flavor for a striking texture rarely heard from American artists.

There are more good piano players dotting the landscape these days than Starbucks locations, Toby Koenigsberg is a great piano player with unlimited potential. It is of little wonder that critical acclaim is no stranger here and this homage to the late indy rock icon Elliott Smith simply shows how deep the melodic playbook is for this ensemble. Koenigsberg contributes two stellar originals including the previously mentioned "Song For Aki." Criticism? Too short...It is like a great Chinese dinner, twenty minutes later you want more!

Tracks: Alphabet Town; Satellite; Song For Aki; The Rain Before It Falls; Improvisation; Strung Out Again.
Personnel: Toby Koenigsberg: Piano; Tyler Abbott Bass (1-4, 6); Tommy Sciple: Bass (5); Jason Palmer: Drums, Toys.