Bar code: 8427328436120
Life is filled with crossroads, some more significant than others, although their impact on the grand scheme of things is not always revealed right from the get-go. It is evident when a major turning point is on the horizon, like relocating to a new place or facing a critical career decision. On the other hand, some crossroads might initially seem more mundane, such as where to go out for dinner or which path to take on an afternoon stroll through the park. But even a trivial decision could potentially lead to a meaningful encounter or create a certain opportunity that otherwise would not have occurred. That’s why every life intersection might be significant, but we can only possibly understand and appreciate its significance in retrospect. As habitual creatures, humans naturally follow routines, but even when we pursue a path we’ve already taken before, our experience is going to be slightly different as we are never exactly the same nor is our environment or surroundings.
The roads artists take affect their creative process, but it’s the creative journey itself that often leads artists to their path, so which came first: the chicken or the egg? Even when artists have clear visions and aspirations, the roads to them can be hazy, or sometimes the roads might be clear, but the destination is not. Although we think we might know which path to follow to a specific destination, we often end up in a completely different place as the artist's goal or vision is continually shaped by his/her experiences along the way [...]
—Yaniv Taubenhouse (Taken from the inside liner notes)
"Remember the excitement you first felt drawing circles as a kid? That profoundly innocent sense of being able to construct anything inside, outside, on, or upon those circles? Faces, trees, noses. Birds. bees, roses. A wide, westward, indigo sky. A fathomless blue ocean of liquid imagination. That's what it's like when you fully and gratefully engage with NYC based pianist/composer Yaniv Taubenhouse's third go round Moments In Trio Volume Three: Roads.
With his fiercely limber rhythm mates, bassist Rick Rosato and drummer Jerad Lippi, the pianist's elegant musings evolve like a lived-in winter's day. A squall here, a flurry there. But they never leave you cold like some artisans. Taubenhouse's (and the trio's) peculiar circle drawings come at an impressionist's pace, with an infectious, homegrown classicism that gives his seven originals, such as "Morning Night," "Rush Hour Traffic," Blue Forest" instant notability. Taffy-pull takes on "Boo Boo's Birthday," Thelonious Monk's song to his young daughter Barbara, Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," and Charlie Parker's cliffhanging "Star Eyes" make especially moving targets.
Moments In Trio Volume Three: Roads eases generously (check out "Prayer") with melodic hijinks abounding and any number of rhythmic ski trails to keep you on your toes."Blue Forest" lulls you into its hypnotic Zen-ness only to have "Rush Hour Traffic" broadside you.Where many and most have tried to define Manhattan in song, verse, and rhyme here is one of the few that does the great burg justice. A springboard of a tune that Rosato and Lippi easily delineate and detail as Taubenhouse crests and configures. "Flow," a progression of loosely tied harmonics and the roaming themes of "Roads" prove the trio to be master weavers all. Don't miss it."
Mike Jurkovic (April 5, 2021)
"Moments In Trio, Volume Three: Roads represents the third trip around the sun for Yaniv Taubenhouse's piano trio, featuring Rick Rosato and Jerad Lippi. It's also the group's most refined offering to date. Borrowing from the bold and confident spirit of Moments in Trio Volume One (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2015) and reabsorbing the nimble interplay and lyrical subtleness that characterized the trio's second crack Moments in Trio Volume Two (2018), this moment in trio combines the adventurous spirit of the earlier dates with a new found perspective, brought forth by meticulous performances all around. With sophistication and confidence, the three offer a fresh batch of inventive originals and a triplet of tasty standards to top it off.
One thing the last two Taubenhouse trio recordings had in common was their setlists being graced with a large majority of originals. The pianist's newest effort doesn't deviate from that path, and the music is all the better for it. From impressionist-romantic ballads like "Blue Forest" to light-footed flirtations with more deconstructed rhythmic and melodic games as demonstrated in "Sailing Over The Horizon," the leader proves to have developed into a state of the art composer, who's capable of paving a way forward without neglecting his musical heritage. That heritage, beyond the obligatory nod to the old bebop guard, having obvious ties to Brad Mehldau's Art of The Trio volumes as well as his work in general.
One might hear reflections of Mehldau's "Ode" (off of Ode (Nonesuch, 2008) in the way "Prayer"'s changes gently build to complete a full circle while accompanied by a crescendoing percussive backdrop. A hint of Mehldau is also hidden in Taubenhouse's soloistic mannerisms, as showcased in the trio's patiently swinging take on Thelonious Monk's "Boo Boo's Birthday" or Taubenhouse's 5/4- riddled version of "Star Eyes." When put into context and looked at as a whole though, it's safe to say that Taubenhouse has a unique approach to melody and composition of his own. He's also a pianist who, besides being endowed with special skill and discipline, profits from the charismatic voices of a longtime working band.
With Lippi, the pianist's band features the kind of drummer who seamlessly alternates tight beat-concentric patterns, like the ones dominating "Rush Hour Traffic," with traditional swing, as expertly featured in the trio's take on Cole Porter classic "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To." The latter piece exhibits him performing a rapid cymbal storm that dynamically swells and decays according to the tune's inner structure. Like Lippi, Taubenhouse adopts a stop-and-go strategy on keys, trading fleeting runs with tip-toing sequences in one moment and laying down gentle cadences in the next. Many instances spread across the program display similar agility and illustrate the players' impeccable chemistry —surely owed to many years of collaboration within a permanent lineup.
Generally treated to slightly more extensive runtimes —six tracks reaching beyond or just under the eight-minute mark— the group's elaborations give each player much room for deeper exploration of voice. Rosato's distinguished bass work especially profits from this enhanced space. He uses the opportunity for resourceful forays up and down the neck. Neither a thick and dominant foundation like Dave Holland, nor the deconstructed experimentalist type in the vein of Gary Peacock, Rosato's accompaniment rather takes on the elegant and versatile stride that contemporaries like Larry Grenadier exhibit. And when he solos, he's melodically on point.
Unlike the customary trio approach however, with this formation solos don't start and stop in the obvious way, where the composition's head is introduced and the players subsequently alternate soloing over the template. Nor do Taubenhouse, Rosato or Lippi necessarily go at it alone. While that may be the case on some occasions —especially with the more traditional cuts like Monk's "Boo Boo's Birthday"— the three tend to prefer a collective approach to improvisation. One that prioritizes steady but simultaneous growth of arrangement over speed and mutual combination over individual showmanship. This is as evident in the opener "Blue Forest" as on breezy "Flow," which finds the three sharing the spotlight from beginning to end. One instrument will take over the reins, but that doesn't keep the others from altering their game, too and accompany at their own independent pace. An exercise in off-beat and polyrhythms, "Morning Night" carries the notion to the brim and finds the trio at its grooviest, with Rosato exhausting the entire breadth of his bass' neck.
Finally, pristine and bright attack paired with warm middle-frequency waves bring the production values to the fore, comprehensively tying this offering together. While Moments In Trio Volume Three: Roads, like the Moments in Trio volumes before it, was engineered by Robert L. Smith, the album appears to make a stronger sonic impact compared to its predecessors. Taubenhouse agrees that Smith's role in this music shouldn't be underestimated when he mentions how "at this point, it almost feels like he's the 4th wheel of the band." Every band could profit from their own personal George Martin now and again...
Whatever Taubenhouse's future projects may entail, one can only hope this formation remains among them and that the pianist's trio can continue to push the envelope forward, build on their shared experience and carry on cultivating a language that's becoming more fluent with each album."
Friedrich Kunzmann (April 4, 2021)
"Pianist and composer Yaniv Taubenhouse releases a new album this month. Moments in Trio Volume Three–Roads (Fresh Sounds/New Talent) features the Israeli pianist and composer backed by Rick Rosato on bass and Jerad Lippi on drums.
Taubenhouse, a graduate of the Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts in Tel Aviv, has a knack for writing ethereal melodies, and his lyrical playing benefits from the gentle propulsion of the rhythm section heard on the album’s 10 tracks, which are mainly originals. There’s also a cover of Cole Porter’s “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To,” and Thelonious Monk’s “Boo Boo’s Birthday,” which the legendary be-bop trailblazer wrote for his daughter Barbara.
It’s a pleasure to hear Taubenhouse spin out his ideas in this trio setting. There’s always something sparkling and inventive here to delight the ears and heart."
Mordecai Specktor (April, 2021)
—American Jewish World
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