Michael Kanan (p), Ben Street (b), Tim Pleasant (d)
Bar code: 8427328421478
This is the second recording by the Michael Kanan trio, featuring Kanan on piano, Ben Street on bass, and Tim Pleasant on drums. Kanan has been playing with Street and Pleasant individually in various situations for ten years. As a trio, the group has played together since 1998. Their sound is that of a classic bebop trio, with plenty of interaction and plenty of space. Kanan has been strongly influenced by the music of pianist Lennie Tristano and his students, whose ideas and sound permeate Kanan's own trio, along with other influences including Thelonious Monk, Ahmad Jamal, and Hank Jones.
This new recording opens with a composition of Lee Konitz, and then proceeds through a repertoire of seldom played standards, a few of Kanan's original compositions, and closes with Monk's composition, "Thelonious".
The standards featured include songs by Alec Wilder, pianist/singer Jeri Southern, Irene Kitchings, and the title track by Rodgers & Hammerstein. The playing is lyrical and playful, swinging and honest. The listener is invited to take part in the music, rather than being overwhelmed by information. The session was superbly recorded by engineer James Farber, who captures a warm and truly acoustic sound.
"Michael Kanan has assembled a first class trio. Tim Pleasant on Drums is an adept and facile player who keeps the time, adds very hip accents and embellishments and most importantly listens to the soloist and formulates the proper mood enhancers to add to the message being sent.
Kanan does not dote on the styles of Tristano and Monk, electing to go his own way, and properly so. Simple lines and melodic musings are the hallmark of this fine player. His original tunes are methodically beautiful. His interpretation of the compositions of others may linger momentarily in appreciation of their legacy, but he wisely follows his own dictates and methods. He is not a slavish victim of Tristano's clique, nor of Monk's quirkiness.
Ben Street's Bass has the sonority that Bassists strive for. His solos are filled with original ideas and his time is perfect. "Tautology" is a bop inspired piece that features Kanan's clean phrases and some delightful eight bar exchanges between the leader and Pleasant's drums. The Bass solo was an added treat, both bright and inspired.
"Adorée" is an original by Mike Kanan. Again he exhibits his affection for the melody. This is an excellent tune done in an easy going tempo with everyone swinging gracefully. "The Gentleman Is A Dope"...The title tune is
given new life by this ensemble. Sophistication reigns supreme in it's presentation.
"Red On Maroon" another Kanan tune that shines brightly. The Bass walked dutifully and the Drums again added the necessary punctuation marks. "Thelonious" Thankfully there are no Monkisms prevalent here. Kanan is in his own bag and the Drums and Bass add incentive to his fine soliloquy.
The message is clear in this recording..."Swing For The People" and this is done with clarity and overall excellence."
-John Gilbert, Jazz Review