With a theme bright, airy, and glowing with straight-ahead jazz of pretty pure quality, the Vinson Valega Trio brings material from which all of the various sub-genres of jazz stem in some way, shape, or form directly or abstractly. Coltrane, Miles et al. would be quite pleased with this unhomogenized, tamper-free grade A project by this unique, chordless trio. Even those who are not necessarily into straight-ahead jazz can appreciate such no-frills excellence from such a relatively unknown group of serious jazz artists.
This New York-based trio is in its 5th year. Each member has his own impressive résumé to tout. Drummer Valega has joined Grover Washington, Jr., Dakota Station, and Jamil Nasser, to name but a few. Saxman Anton Denner has sat in with, among others, the likes of legendary giant Ray Charles, songstress Rosemary Clooney, and Bill Stewart. Bass player Gary Wang has worked with greats like Stanley Turrrentine, Eddie Henderson, Diane Reeves, Roy Hargrove, and Thelonius Monk. Just by virtue of association, both individually and collectively, I’d say these guys are more than a little qualified to lay down these impressive tracks!
My favorite track here actually happens to be the last track, "Secret Love," the old classic rendered by so many in their own distinct and competent fashion. Valega’s group sets out to put its own stamp on the piece and does so with a light, fresh, unimposing offering.I’ve often said that those who can’t quite sink their teeth into good straight-ahead jazz still owe so much appreciation and the highest respect to the genre that provided the base and structure of all of its subgenres. Valega’s group is quite deserving of that homage.