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John Stetch Trio: Bruxin’

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Somewhere Whitney Balliett once said (I am paraphrasing from memory) that new original jazz tunes challenge the listener because the material upon which improvisation is based is unknown. Balliett is one of the few jazz critics ever to publicly cop to this blinding flash of the obvious. There is another potential issue with originals: There are fewer good composers than players.

Bruxin’ is pianist John Stetch’s first all-original trio album. His varied, well-crafted tunes all sound vaguely like someone else’s. Whitney Balliett also said jazz was “the sound of surprise.” The little vamp that opens “How Far Is Callisto,” the lilting, sweet melody of “The Girl in the Hemp Shirt” and the calculated abstractions of “Chord-Free Gord” are all pleasantly listenable and utterly unsurprising.

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