Listening to Bloom reminds me of my first encounters with Ralph Peterson’s Triangular. Both records are drummer-led trio affairs, with an upcoming pianist busting moves that wax communal while stealing the show a bit. JazzTimes readers probably recall the pianist on Peterson’s 1989 jewel: Geri Allen. Carmen Staaf fans, a growth demographic, will be happy to learn that this engaging session is where their hero shines bright. Throughout a scad of breezy arrangements, Staaf continuously elevates the music while bolstering the offhand intricacies of her mates, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer/leader Jeff Williams.
One of freebop’s beauties is the way it can wiggle toward either side of its equation at a moment’s notice. Williams encourages his team to run with this notion, making agility job one here. Agility and momentum, I should say. The drummer has a way of spinning his phrases into a web of propulsion that delivers opportunities for Formanek and Staaf, whose lines splash and course like a valley stream overflowing from a winter snow melt. On “A Word Edgewise,” the trio heeds the theme while toying with its stretching points. The rhythm section is all about leeway, and Staaf dazzles by turning a series of discrete flurries into a keenly architected solo.