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April 1998

Mike Nock Trio
Not We But One
Naxos Jazz

New Zealand accounts for but few entries as yet in the Book of Jazz, but one native of Christchurch has made his own quiet, sporadic inroads into post-modernist bop. Mike Nock always brings up much good listening from down under. He has been teaching music in Sydney, Australia for many years. In his late '50s, Nock has long owned his voice-purling, wry, articulate, and his own touch-firm, dry, pellucid. He's been in some cutting bands with visionary Yusef Lateef and the proto-fusion Fourth Way, and led some good ones featuring Berklee compadre John Abercrombie and Charlie Mariano. Nock likes to layer his ideas, either in harmonic strata or linear repetitions, a trait which gives his playing uncommon resonance without weightiness. He uses pedal wisely to further the effects.

Nock shines in a solo setting, but trio also serves him well. Drummer Tony Reedus has many fine moments, with swirling belltree and brushes, as does bassist Anthony Cox, with a powerful singing voice of his own, whose thoughtful solo opens the album. The only non-original, most of which stick to the ribs, is "Cry Me A River" done in three, with nice interplay with Reedus' skimmering brushes. Nock's compositions are tough-minded and individualistic, yet somehow primeval and pristine. "Hadrian's Wall" made me dig out his old Timeless album (1978) with the young Mike Brecker. "Cyberspace Shuffle" uses pedal point to good advantage to build excitement. "Transitions" does, too, spinning out a well-turned single note line, which leads into a head with octave lines, fat chords built in, and strong unisons, leading to a hardy bass solo. The three explore textures galore: arch wisps of fantasy for solo piano curl up from "Your Smile," "Kiss" is a terpsichorean chorale, and the title track features "native" hand-drumming by Reedus.

This goodie comes from Naxos, yet another classical label delving into jazz and wielding a burgeoning catalog.

Originally published in April 1998
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