Roulette at Location One
Captured live at Jim Staley’s Roulette on March 4, 2005 on the heels of their previous CIMP album, Sugar Hill Suite, Roulette at Location One exhibits Trio X in peak form, opting for spatial exploration by utilizing remarkable restraint and extraordinary dynamics. The rapport of rhythm section Dominic Duval (amplified acoustic bass) and Jay Rosen (drums and percussion)—who’ve been playing together regularly for the past decade—allows them to steer the ebb and flow of sound with facility and conviction, while McPhee—playing mostly soprano here, except for a few brief pocket trumpet passages—responds with eloquent, lyrical and rousing melodic figures.
One of their main characteristics is to fleetingly introduce new themes while extrapolating older ones, which they do here by quoting pieces off their previous albums in addition to Monk’s “Bemsha Swing” and “Monk’s Dream,” Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman” and Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready”—one track is even titled “David Danced: variations on Ellington”—effectively straddling the line between familiar and peculiar. Strangely, Duval swings here more than Rosen, who mostly uses his kit for color and shade as he coaxes copious tones and sonorities. Somehow—probably due to their extensive experience playing together—it all ends up making sense. Though Trio X reaches the occasional climactic whirl, the overall mood of this set is a sort of ambiguous pensiveness.