On Apropos of Nothing, the Pittsburgh based Thoth Trio delves into this eclectic art form with mixed results. Woodwind player Ben Opie finds new things to say most clearly on the short title tune. His clarinet, seemingly, questions the air throughout the short solo introduction before laying out the short melody. It’s a shame this tune ends here without any real development. This could have been the highlight of the disc.
The disc’s highpoint is, instead, Look And Reflect. Here Opie is plaintive, searching yet candidly sincere in his fashioning of reflective and melancholic phrases. His saxophone weathers the interactions wonderfully as his pitches rise and fall in perfect sync with bandmates Paul Thompson (bass) and David Throckmorton (drums). On this track the three truly act as one in perfect symbiosis. Their use of dynamics and climaxing of line is simply superb.
Bassist Thompson’s playing is good, but quite unrestrained throughout. At times his questioning lines set up unexpected and vibrant responses from the band, but at other points, such as on Ammonium, he doesn’t seem to fit in with the storm around him. Throckmorton’s drumming is tight, energetic and vigorous, whether his compatriots follow or not. His duet with Thompson on Opie’s Dream is just plain great.
The main problem with this recording lies in the fact that the three don’t come together in mental harmony often enough. There are too many points when it sounds like three people playing for themselves, instead of music played by three people. Even when working within avant-garde means it’s still all about musical communication. That’s not to say this is a bad recording. There are just not enough of the really great moments when things hit together.