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Ernie Krivda: The Art of the Trio

You can hear what Joe Lovano has heard in his fellow Cleveland tenor saxophonist Ernie Krivda: a similar rough, wooly tweed tone and same fearless, questing imagination. Seven years older, Krivda has a unique jazz voice, one that has had an impact on Lovano. Maybe it’s part of a Cleveland school of tenors. Definitely, it has its charms.

This is Krivda’s first sax-bass-drums trio-he’s done sax-guitar-bass-undertaken “because the trio, with no chord instrument, demands strength of purpose and clarity of execution from the saxophonist,” he says in the notes, which unlike a lot of liner notes, are really helpful and illuminating, an indispensable guide. Drummer Ron Godale has played with him since the late 1970s, when they recorded an earlier version of their duet interplay on the arresting “Tzigine,” while bassist Peter Dominguez has gigged with Krivda since 2002.

The eight tracks, all Krivda originals, include three contrafacts of standards displaying the intricate invention of the Lennie Tristano school, two based on Cole Porter (“Considered Revisions” on “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To” and “Porter’s Riddle” on “What Is This Thing Called Love?”) and one on Jerome Kern (“The Jerry Turn” on “All the Things You Are”). Equally intricate are “The Song of Aragon,” a wide-ranging, episodic piece with both modal and flamenco tinges, and “Beauty Passing,” what Krivda calls “a ballade with unusual form,” an extended unfurling theme reminiscent of Charles Mingus ballads with the tenor’s self-proclaimed “lyricism but a harder delivery” revealing growing agitation. The naked recording process espoused by CIMP-two-track, live, no equalization or “fixing” by edit-reveals the core rapport that is this trio’s greatest strength.

Originally Published