Three Kinds of Happiness
Art Lange’s nearly illegible liner notes for Three Kinds of Happiness promulgate copious speculation on the meaning of the music in the third release from Locksmith Isidore, the trio led by Chicago bass clarinetist Jason Stein. A boppish tempo within the first cut, “Crayons for Sammy,” leads to a simple ride through a number of compositional mindsets that might have more to do with the inspired construct of the music than with what it means.
Stein is a formalist. That is a determining factor behind his pure tones, clean lines, the ease with which he creates incredible figures on his instrument, and his choice for accompaniment in bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Mike Pride, who are both equally precise and adept at holding on to their places in the stream as well as fulfilling their roles in the trio.
The music swells with quick pacing always led by Stein, where the wrist motion of the drummer counts for everything. In bluesy numbers, Roebke plays flat-out velvety walking lines and Stein goes for the low notes and sexy split tones. Synchrony amongst the three players flashes in and out of the mix. But the third cut, “Little Bird,” gives a bit of flight for the players into a free zone, even though a repeated lilting melodic theme predominates; the tune actually gives license for a relaxed approach to the remaining music. The formalism lifts; the guys improvise and get into grooves as in “More Gone Door Gone.” Pride shines once again in a boppish vein behind Stein in “Man or Ray;” yet a solo run highlights his drumming versatility even more brightly.
Closing the recording is a “bonus” live take on “Miss Izzy,” a regular number for the band, but, for this record, its rousing lowdown and dirty culmination.