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Jeff Denson/Romain Pilon/Brian Blade: Between Two Worlds (Ridgeway)

A review of the trio album from the bassist, guitarist and drummer

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Jeff Denson/Romain Pilon/Brian Blade, Between Two Worlds
The cover of Between Two Worlds by Jeff Denson/Romain Pilon/Brian Blade

You glean Brian Blade’s ecstasy from his huge smiles behind the drum kit, but you need close listening to glean his genius. He exposes the beat, much like that recent meme showing folks that the Chinese-food takeout box was always supposed to fold downward and outward, into a plate. You’re left wondering, Oh, why did I never think of that? Why was that always hidden in plain sight? So Blade unfolds foot-pat by foot-pat, unpacking, jubilantly defying metronome mind to set the beat down over here, there, and every other where you could think up. (Except he’s not limited by our mind, only by his.)

Bassist Jeff Denson and guitarist Romain Pilon had much more history together going into this session, going back to Berklee in the ’90s and extending through outfits large and small. “Working together always felt easy,” Denson writes in his liner notes, “since both of us were intensely focused on pushing ourselves musically as far as possible and sharing a deep sense of camaraderie and friendship.”

Pilon glides through the music with a superb sense of confidence, any staccato muffled, the most part, by his worn-sweater-warm tone, pinging on octaves and other intervals, trading off arpeggios for soloing in chords—never loud, never distorted, never raging, but always unpredictable. Denson’s buried a bit in the mix, alas (I suggest headphones), but given a solo spot (on his own tune “En Trois Temps,” for example), he shines with a slippery, supple sense of the moment. The moment is what we have, they seem to say, so raise it and praise it. Thanks to recording technology (another one of those ordinary miracles), we have things like this for moments to come.

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