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June 2004

Florian Ross Trio
Blinds and Shades
Intuition Music

The most obvious role model for the Florian Ross Trio is Keith Jarrett's band with Jack DeJohnette and Gary Peacock. An inventive, inspired unit capable of heightened sensitivity and ferocious interplay, they exhibit remarkable empathy and dazzling virtuosity on Blinds & Shades (Intuition). As the trio's principal composer, pianist Ross demonstrates a delicate touch on luminous pieces like "Ev'ry Now and Then (Pause and Think Again)" and "Grande Tristesse," as well as on the gorgeous solo piano closer "Goodbye," while his more forceful keyboard work, as on "Toss & Turn" and "Getting There (Is Half the Fun)," creates its own swinging, cascading momentum.

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Marc Pieper

Florian Ross

There are two blatantly Jarrett-inspired numbers here in "Farewell" and "Julia," as well as an experimental offering in "Bookend," in which Ross plays inside the piano and mutes strings for percussive effect. Bassist Remi Vignolo is an outstanding soloist and an adventurous accompanist whose deep-toned, contrapuntal lines greatly enhance this trio's flexibility. Drummer John Hollenbeck plays with the right combination of fire and finesse throughout, fueling this highly interactive session with his creative choices and percussive coloring on the kit using sticks, brushes and hands. These pieces hang together on the internal logic of Ross' writing, but they also evolve organically, taking off into their own orbit.

The only cover on Blinds & Shades is a ruminative, eerily beautiful reinvention of "Bye Bye Blackbird," which is imbued with a spirit of spontaneous invention, along with a penchant for reharmonization, elastic time and complex tempo shifting, that recalls the close communication of Brad Mehldau's trio. Highly recommended.

Originally published in June 2004
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