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Blinds And Shades by Florian Ross Trio

Although the piano trio is one of the most basic jazz ensembles, it's also one of the most challenging, at least for artists who want to extend the language of music. What, after all, can be done with the voicing of piano, drums and bass that hasn't been done before, and in many cases, hasn't been done better? To take the form to a new level requires more than great musicianship and strong material. It's a level of empathy between the players and a keen understanding that the spaces are as important as the sound that distinguishes some trios as a force for creation, and the lack of those qualities that reduces some trios to the level of cocktail jazz. There's a place for both, of course. Jazz can be entertainment or art. Occasionally, it can be both at once.

On the occasions that the Florian Ross Trio gathered to make this recording, jazz was both entertainment and art. The ten tracks include nine original compositions and a version of "Bye Bye Blackbird," one of the three live cuts on the disc, that's presented so creatively that it nearly qualifies as a new composition in itself. Pianist Ross and his compatriots, Remi Vignolo on bass and drummer John Hollenbeck, have that rare and wonderful quality of sympatico that lifts them far above the mundane. Ross' sense of melody is impressive and each player seems to have an intuitive grasp of the harmonic possibilities of the piano trio setting. Their interplay ebbs and flows in a manner that suggests a nearly occult level of mental communication.

Bill Evans for the 21st century? Perhaps, but any comparisons fail to do real credit to either side of the equation. This is simply great jazz in the truest sense - challenging, inventive, grounded in tradition but always reaching for new horizons. Ross has created great music in a number of settings, including grass ensemble, string orchestra and quintet, and now proves his true command of one of the purest forms of jazz expression.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Florian Ross Trio
  • CD Title: Blinds And Shades
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Intuition
  • Rating: Five Stars
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