Keystone Trio: Heart Beats

When a group of musicians takes on a collective identity, eschewing for their audience the designation of an overt leader, they ask to be heard in a different light. It is not this pianist with those rhythm players: it is this group, their sound. And in the case of the Keystone Trio, the group and their collective sound are quite fine indeed. Comprising John Hicks, piano; George Mraz, bass and Idris Muhammad, drums, the essays for this set a slate of standards, with a single composition from the pen of Mr. Hicks. So, while many of these tunes are familiar, they all have a feel that the three players seem to have adopted as one, as if it were the obvious way to approach the melody. As soloists, these three share a sense of how to avoid the sameness of riff upon riff and cascading notes: each is a melodist, each lending his complementary sense of the music to the collectively swinging-and satisfying-whole. – Bill Bennett