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02/03/12

Neil Cowley Trio
Radio Silence

Following the lead of the Bad Plus, British pianist Neil Cowley likes it loud, loud, loud. His trio, with bassist Richard Sadler and drummer Evan Jenkins, goes for the grandiose on such catchy, rock-fueled instrumental offerings as “Monoface” (which borrows a riff from Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men”), the playfully frenetic funk workout “Gerald,” the goofy and energetic “Hug the Greyhound” and the 14-minute closer, “Portal.” It’s all creative and clever, but it’s arguable whether any of this qualifies as jazz, with the exception of the evocative 6/8 vehicle “Vice Skating,” the freewheeling rubato number “A French Lesson” and the dirge-like title track. It may be better to think of Cowley’s trio as an acoustic extension of Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

Originally published in January/February 2012
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