Evening In Vermont is the ninth CD by the straight-ahead jazz quartet, TRP (The Reese Project). Featuring three members of the Reese clan, Tom play flutes, Laurie is on cello, and Kirk on piano, rounded out by the percussion set work of Dave Young, the ensemble plays a collection of original, covers by jazz legends like Wayne Shorter and Roland Kirk, and folk songs.
This lively yet laid back ensemble has found a way to sound traditional in both jazz and folk settings at the same time. Their arrangement of the folk song “Minstrel Boy,” for example, captures both a strong element of Irish folk and sweet straight ahead styles. With the light two-beat percussion backbeat, Laurie gets most of the melodic content. Conversely, “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise” is about as traditionally straight-ahead as you can get, except that the bass lines are played on cello.
The real monster in the group is Kirk. All of his improvised piano solos are tightly constructed, harmonically rich and diverse, and his melodic ideas utilize the entire range of his instrument without playing to any campy panaches. Every time he takes off in flight you never know where he will go. Darting and dashing from phrase to phrase, his playing is superb. As a comper behind Ton and Laurie’s work, he lays out just enough of the chords to keep the group grounded while still brilliantly allowing others to shine.
Laurie’s work on cello dispels any myths about string instrument players not being able to swing. Her improvised solos are clever, always going for lines that are both singable and memorable. Tom’s flute playing is rock solid. Preferring shorter phrases over longer ones, he none-the-less is able to connect them in exciting ways as he floats over the proceedings. Young’s percussion work is laid back, never to the fore, and swings with the easy grace of Sunday afternoon outdoor wine bar gigs. All-in-all an enjoyable and varied collection of sweet, never-in-your-face jazz.