This remarkably intuitive trio has the ability to collectively bend the harmonic and rhythmic content of familiar jazz standards like taffy. In their most playful mode, as they were during a recent engagement at the Blue Note, it’s like watching the Flying Karamazov Brothers tossing bowling pins back and forth from across the stage. While they have been playing together as a trio off and on since 1995, with each member leading the group at different times throughout the years, they have arrived at a place now where there is no leader. Hence, the cooperative band name and album title, which implies three playing as one, freely. As pianist Jean-Michel Pilc has stated, “It’s something that to me transcends who we are individually. It’s not a trio, it’s Pilc/Moutin/Hoenig solo.”
Indeed, the muse appears and seems to pull them into unexpected directions on well-charted territory. And the impetus for a sudden change of course harmonically or an abrupt tempo shift might come from any of the players at any time. In essence, the Pilc/Moutin/Hoenig entity approaches each of the familiar jazz standards on Threedom with carte blanche and a license for reinvention. They put their own personal stamp on Miles’ “Nardis.” And it’s the uncanny flexibility of the rhythm tandem of bassist Francois Moutin and the incredibly melodic drummer Ari Hoenig (catch his clearly articulated stating of the head on the drum kit at the outset of Monk’s “Think of One” and Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation”) that allows them to do so. Add in the mercurial spirit, restless imagination and staggering technical facility of pianist Pilc and you have a trio that can truly go anywhere within the music at any time.
Suffice it to say they have their way with a reharmonized “A Foggy Day” (featuring some slick brushwork by Hoenig) while turning in radical reinventions of iconic numbers like “Giant Steps,” “Afro Blue” and “I’m Beginning to See the Light” and burning through a frantic “You and the Night and the Music.” Pilc’s own compositions, notably “Morning,” “Birth” and “Hymn for Her,” reveal the heart of a romantic, while his experimental excursions like “Slow,” “Touch” (for prepared piano) and “Dusk” show his avant-garde side. This enhanced CD includes one video track of the trio putting their own stamp on another John Coltrane staple with their clever reworking of “Mr. P.C.”