Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

No Fast Food: Settings for Three (CornerStore Jazz)

A review of the third album from the trio of Phil Haynes, Drew Gress, and Dave Liebman

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
Cover of Settings for Three by No Fast Food
Cover of Settings for Three by No Fast Food

If veteran drummer, arranger, and composer Phil Haynes is busy tallying lucky stars these days, it’s easy to hear why, thanks to a pair of simultaneously released recordings that reveal the breadth of his talents and good fortune. In some ways, the albums couldn’t be more different. 60/69 My Favorite Things is an imaginative, larkish, hook-laden double-CD ’60s retrospective featuring Haynes’ Free Country quartet, with Hank Roberts on cello and vocals, Jim Yanda on guitar, and Drew Gress on bass. Settings for Three, on the other hand, is neither nostalgic nor pop-slanted. Instead, it finds Haynes in improv mode, recharging his audacious No Fast Food trio, featuring Gress and saxophonist/flutist Dave Liebman, in an often kinetic and always compelling studio session.

Haynes’ “settings” are at once sparse and challenging. Even though his previous work with Gress and Liebman should provide listeners with sufficient preparation for No Fast Food’s highly intuitive level of play, the group can still startle at times, especially when Liebman is spotlighted, which is frequently the case. Although he consistently conjures a sense of primal spirituality on soprano and flute, his finest moments come when he’s more animated or emphatic, whether surfing choppy rhythmic waves on the Wayne Shorter-inspired “Longer Shorter,” heightening the rhythm section’s uproarious funk on the aptly titled “Whack Whap,” or augmenting Haynes’ delightful clatter and swing with plenty of soulful swagger on “Blue Dop.” And speaking of soul, Gress’ deeply resonating arco performance on “String Theory,” an album highlight, quickly proves haunting.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published