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Transitions

There’s an odd but interesting phenomenon frequently in play today in jazz wherein a recorded effort attempts to “move ahead” by looking back on the past and “playing tribute” moebius-like. In some instances, the effort works only on the “playing tribute” level, but, not much more. That’s definitely not the case here. With Three Voices’ “Transitions” Trumpeter Kim Pensyl, vibraphonist Rusty Burge, and bassist, Michael Sharfe collaborate superbly saluting a group of GASers and, with significant taste and flair, deliver a most enjoyable, very easy-to-take CD.

Textures and taste are names of the game on this date. Pensyl’s lush flugelhorn supported by Burge’s sparkling vibes and Sharfe’s restrained, but, highly engaged bass create a palette of pastels that invite interest and are never obnoxious. The material, although presenting classics (“Stella by Starlight,” “It Never Entered My Mind,”) also includes some under-recorded selections from sainted writers (“Isfahon” from Duke, Cole Porter’s “Dream Dancing,” et al). All are performed impeccably.

Pensyl’s lush flugelhorn playing - with dynamic and rhythmic grace - demonstrates a marvelous command of his axe and channels both earlier Miles Davis and Chet Baker. He spins solos with elegantly conceived and tastefully delivered ideas. Burge, Tjader-esque, buys wholeheartedly into the restraint and coolness of the date. He’s hip without getting hot. Sharfe keeps all percolating and adds much more than simply walked lines. He swings and speaks a voice. This fine triangle of textures morphs into a unique instrument of its own and musically caresses the vaunted material.

Three Voices’ “Transitions” is an excellent example of classic music performed sublimely with reverence and respect by superior musicians.

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Nick Mondello