The Yes! Trio is sure evidence of jazz synthesis: three dissimilar musicians renowned for individual style and direction yet who, when fused and hardened in the fire of jazz, bring something new and different into play, a fresh creation.
Pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Omer Avital, and drummer Ali Jackson are hardly conventional jazz musicians. Goldberg is an astute acoustic and electric pianist possessed of a forward-thinking bent. Avital’s Israeli heritage figures greatly into his epic, spirited recordings and performances. Jackson, late of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, is an anarchic drummer unbound by tradition.
In the Yes! Trio, however, these players make oddly traditional-sounding music, redolent of the great piano trios of Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan, and Mulgrew Miller, powerhouse units that could play anything. Supercharged by Jackson’s articulate fury and strengthened by Avital’s unerring rhythms, the trio lays into original material and standards with a keen edge that jackhammers the listener to his or her seat.
Jackson’s “Escalier” opens Groove du Jour with a dexterous Afro-Cuban-angled arrangement that settles into succinct soloing. Jackson flips brush madness in Jackie McLean’s “Dr. Jackle,” the trio tipping, swinging, and spiriting the semi-standard into frenetic territory. The physicality continues on Avital’s sinewy “Muhammad’s Market,” a knotty intro leading into solos that navigate circuitous terrain over a hard-driving 4/4 pulse. Goldberg’s “Tokyo Dream” is all grace and filigree, a seeming tribute to piano-trio tradition that delights. Avital’s “Flow” cajoles and hurtles—listen at your own risk. Does jazz move forward by looking back? Yes, it does, if the Yes! Trio is hosting.
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