And to think there was a time when This Writer wasn't all that excited by piano trios.... as a lad, I respected them, true, but I was always thinking, "Where's the horns or guitar?" I was young and got over it. I learned the Power of 3 via Bill Evans and Marilyn Crispell - they set me on the Path of Righteousness re: the keys/bass/drums configuration. Which brings us, pilgrims, to today's subject, the latest from key-cracker Edward Simon.
He's a pianist of sublime enchantments, as he's of the school of never blitzing the listener with a torrent of notes where/when a few spare tinkles will work magic. While never tentative or ponderous, Simon plays like a painter lovingly, intently strokes n' dabs his canvas. He mixes the contemplative approach of Evans with the dignified drama of Hancock and the noir-ish ballad side of Brubeck - wistful and introspective, but never self-absorbed or mope-y.
The other 2/3 equal his poised intensity - from their work with Wayne Shorter, most folk know of the capabilities of John Patitucci and Brian Blade as movers of the Earth. Here, Blade makes with subtle, crackling percussive swirls, forward-propulsion, and mini-quakes, while JP makes his basses (acoustic and electric) hum, sigh, and sing, drawing out guitar-like sonorities from time to time. Hard churning swing with forceful solos? Look elsewhere. But for tunefully impressionistic, mutedly lyrical piano trio jazz with sterling, low-volume soloing like cut gems and uncanny group empathy, perfect for late-night/ruminative listening, Unicity is IT. Five stars.