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Joan Stiles: Three Musicians

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This unusually flexible trio of piano (Joan Stiles), tenor sax (Joel Frahm) and drums (Matt Wilson) is marked by such playful counterpoint, mercurial shifting and spontaneous, deconstructive interplay that it could almost be placed in the comedy bins next to the P.D.Q. Bach and Allan Sherman CDs. Not to suggest that these players aren’t also swinging fervently (“Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” Mary Lou Williams’ “O.W.”) and making beautiful ballad statements (“Lucky to Be Me” and Billy Strayhorn’s “Blood Count”). But their reinvention of “My Funny Valentine” blends segments of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” and a Bach theme into a comical collage, and their rendition of “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” draws a clever thematic connection to the Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Three very fertile minds at work here, coming together in copacetic fashion, often with subversive, tongue-in-cheek intent.

Originally Published