Phil Grenadier (tp), Will Slater (b), Karen Kocharyan (d)
Bar code: 8427328424370
"This recording is something I have wanted to do for a long while- a spontaneous session with long time friends playing some of our favorite standards done in a single take with absolutely no overdubs or fixes. What you hear is what you get. We are striving to rise above the songs into a realm where we are ourselves yet coming together as one. Our codas to each song are a synthesis and distillation of the material, our personalities and the moment. I truly hope you enjoy our moments together."
"In the realm of jazz trumpet the music of great performers has taken broadly two paths. The first path is that of Gabriel, the clarion trumpet player of stunning power and technique, perhaps most famously embodied in such musicians as Armstrong, Eldridge, and Gillespie.
The other remarkable path is that of the subtly persuasive Orpheus, who (although presumably a string player) exemplifies the more nuanced poignancy of such musicians as Beiderbecke, Davis, and Baker. It is the second path that Phil Grenadier is traveling. I would have a very difficult time coming up with explicit links between the solos of those giants and Phil, but the path undeniably is the same.
A closer connection can be found in the solos of two deceased former Bostonians, Joe Gordon at his peak (e.g., A Song for Richard or Heleen
from Lookin Good, Contemporary S7597) and Herb Pomeroy during his last decade (e.g., Darn That Dream on Paul Broadnax Heres to Joe, Brownstone 9611). The kind of poignancy one finds in those three solos gives some sense of the gut level impact of a Phil Grenadier solo.
And still there is no explicit cause-effect link between the recorded work of Pomeroy and Gordon and the current performances of Mr. Grenadier. In some sense what is most exciting about the trumpet work of Phil Grenadier is not that he is on the path of Orpheus but that he is extending the path in his own inimitable way. I am enthusiastic about where he is traveling now and where he will carve out that path tomorrow..."
"Im a great admirer of the trumpeters previous Fresh Sound releases, which team him with such intriguing names as Ethan Iverson, Seamus Blake and bassist brother Larry Grenadier and in the case of Playful Intentions see him tackle contemporary material by Fiona Apple, Beck and the then (maybe no longer?) de rigueur Radiohead. Theres also a great duo version with Larry of Lonely Woman, the Horace Silver version.
Here, though, Phil and his two associates tackle an hours worth of standards and jazz repertory pieces without the safety net of a harmony instrument or a second horn to share point. Its intriguingly open-ended music, apparently recorded as heard and without post-fixing. You Dont Know What Love Is immediately suggests that no one is going to lose sight of the original song, or not for any distance, but that theres liberty to take liberties with it. Elsewhere, almost everything is revoiced and often significantly repositioned. Grenadier has a nice discursive approach to phrasing and a fondness for middle-to-low register playing that gives the set an air of conversational directness. Paul Smoker has worked in similar situations, but estimable as he always is, he has a faintly professorial manner that Grenadier engagingly sets aside. This sounds like a group convened by friends. Slater doesnt hesitate to chip in when he has things to say but Kocharyan (whos a chap, by the way) chatters away regardless underneath, supportively but also self-startingly; hes not here just to keep time. Footprints, a long version, brings it to a terrific end.
How good it would be to hear this trio in a club, but this is almost as close, a live document of a (hard-)working trio."
Brian Morton -May, 2014
"In the turning and twisting of Phil Grenadiers yammeringand sometimes raucouslines, lurks a gentle swinging lyricism that has become the hallmark of his playing through his three albums as leader and through the duo one made with bassist Bruno Råberg as well. On this recording, Shimmer one made up entirely of music from the American Songbook, standards, from Broadway and Tin Pan Alley to the book of the great Wayne Shorter as well. The idea that they shimmer is so utterly true; the music here seems to be aglow as the trumpeter runs the melodies down, ably assisted by bassist Will Slater, who has proven himself to be a sublime harmonist, Karen drummer Karen Kocharyan, who is not only an excellent timekeeper, but also a drummer who uses colour to accentuate melodies and the rich harmonies and one who is melodious and often suggests alternate routes of improvisation to both the trumpeter as well as the bassist. Thus the trio is unique in the many-splendored music that unfolds on music that has been played often, yet sounds so new and wondrous in the re-invention of some of the most beautiful and classic charts. Although the spotlights have been equally distributed during the playing much of this is due to the magnificent virtuoso playing of Phil Grenadier.
Mr. Grenadier is that kind of trumpeter who focuses not on melody, but rather strives for pure tone through exploration of the timbre of his instrument. When he plays thus he makes short, but poignant stabs at the air expelled through the bell, by controlling the valves as a pianist controls the pressure exerted on the piano. Head perpetually cocked to one side like Lester Young, Mr. Grenadier never lets on what is coming this way or that. Instead he shuts his eyes and plays those long lines laced with trumpet chatter and melodies that are wrought from gleaming brass and bathed in the bronzed light of the fierce morning sun. Because he is rather forthright, his notes are heated almost to melting point of brass. His melodic invention is as varied and alive as Medusas gloriously living head. Mr. Grenadier shots lines out of the bell of his horn. Sometimes he might pull them back, playing harmonic inversions. At other times he may begin his lines somewhere in the middle of the melody advancing and pulling them back in reverse. Thus the tantalising manner of his playing seems alive with many roots and many branches. In this respect his soli are most like Those of Sonny Rollins; breathtaking in their continuum and the raw energy with which they come alive.
But it is not only Mr. Grenadier who shines. His bass player, seemingly moulded in the likeness of his own brother Larry, seems to be equally inventive as Larry Grenadier. Mr. Slater brings a stunning array of harmonic richness to this project. He is also truly melodic in his approach to his playing. In this regard, he must have schooled himself in the ways of Ray Brown, but over the years has developed a voice of his own. Drummer Karen Kocharyan is wise to the melodies that are being re-invented and contributes much in this regard. Between the three musicians, they have managed to bringing the charts alive with much beauty and newness.
Raul da Gama (May 16, 2014)
"With his stylistic versatility, dark lyricism, and aggressive imagination, trumpeter Phil Grenadier can do just about anything (one of his gigs is in the Jerry Bergonzi band every Monday night at the Lily Pad in Cambridge). The title and all-standards program of his new CD as well as the black-and-white cover portrait suggest a laid-back mainstream session. But Grenadier has given himself a spare setting just his trumpet along with bassist Will Slater and drummer Karen Kocharyan and the emphasis here is on spontaneous exploration. The scope of the arrangements extends from a fairly straight treatment of In a Sentimental Mood (the melody lovingly caressed by Grenadiers vibrato) to a left-field twist on Yesterdays: The melancholy Jerome Kern chestnut is bookended with extended quotes from Edgar Winter's funk-rock classic Frankenstein. Thats the most extreme move here; mostly the trio wants to see how far it can go with these songs while remaining true to their essence. Even when the furious tempo of I Hear a Rhapsody brings the musicians to a trilling, unresolved coda, theyre still playing the tune its just taken them someplace new and unexpected."
John Garelick (March 27 2014)
-The Boston Globe