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Shook/Russo Trio Featuring Bob Butta: Introducing the FAB Trio

The FAB Trio is titled for the first names of its members: drummer Frank Russo, bassist Amy Shook and pianist Bob Butta. Shook and Russo may not be household names outside their base of Washington, D.C., but they are exceptional players. Butta is a sure-handed, hard-driving pianist. Together, the FAB Trio has uncommon cohesiveness and passionate positive energy. All three players write nice tunes that reflect the group’s orderly, muscular mainstream approach.

In a world well populated with highly capable piano trios, what makes this album stand out is its extraordinary recorded sound, the work of engineer Jeff Gruber. It may be coincidental, but Frank Russo has played on two of the most dynamic, incisive recordings of small jazz ensembles ever made in the standard “red book” CD format. (The other was Bob Boguslaw’s Gabrielle’s Hand, also on Summit, engineered by Alan Wonneberger.) Butta’s “The Great Complicators” begins with 64 seconds of fascinating details from Russo, his drum set present in eerie three-dimensional verisimilitude, arrayed across your two speakers. If you have a high-resolution audio system, the power and depth of Amy Shook’s bass on “Just You, Just Me” will remind you why you spent all that money.

Originally Published