3 and 1
Let's Play Stella
Fans of the piano trio should love this CD. It's an excellent example of how satisfying chamber jazz can be when all the parts fit together. Pianist Dave Peck plays in a well-developed mainstream style (somewhat hard-boppish, somewhat postboppish) and his highly experienced colleagues, bassist Chuck Deardorf and drummer Dean Hodges (who've recorded together with Don Lanphere since 1983), provide first-class, interactive support in addition to playing major solo roles themselves.
Deardorf gets a chance to improvise on most of the tunes. On ballads like Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes," he extemporizes long, tuneful, melodic phrases, while on up-tunes such as "If I Were a Bell" and, especially, Thad Jones' "3 and 1," he sets a rhythmic groove a tenor player would envy. Hodges, too, makes the most of his several solo opportunities to fashion interesting rhythms while still insinuating a solid pulse. But the leader himself, in spite of his relative newness on the scene, serves as the catalyst that makes it all jell. On tunes like Monk's medium tempo "Eronel," he swings easily and sure-footedly, while on the quick "Star Eyes" he digs in propulsively, and on ballads like "Every Time We Say Goodbye" he fabricates imaginative, highly expressive lines.
Throughout 3 and 1, Peck's trio listens carefully and complements each other's work. This one is a keeper.