Steve Blanco Trio,
(Insomnia, 2006)

Steve Blanco and his two co-musicians -- Adam Roberts on bass and Sunny Jain on drums -- are a great musical phenomenon. Listening to their debut CD Contact takes you on a journey through so many different styles of music that it leaves you speechless.

Blanco himself is a multitalented man, as he has also directed a number of movies. Music on this CD is an expression of the real world with its positive and negative sides.

Most of the tunes are original compositions. However, there is one by Sergei Prokofiev called "Vision Fugitive, Op. 22 No. 2" and the legendary Miles Davis's "Nardis." Putting those two musical giants together is definitely a creative step, but it also characterizes the wide scope of Blanco's influences.

The thing that makes this record great is the interplay between all three musicians. Certainly there are similarities to Bill Evans Trio, but the synergy might be compared to fusion giant Weather Report -- and of course the very popular jazz-rock trio The Bad Plus. The thing that makes Blanco's trio and The Bad Plus alike is the important role played by bass and drums. It just isn't the regular jazz trio where piano rules and the rest of the instruments are left to do the dirty work.

Blanco's musical handwriting is mostly characteristic of modern jazz. His piano style isn't that of easy listening where one can just sit back and enjoy the music -- you really have to pay attention to it to get the point. However, maybe he should be even more aggressive and passionate at some spots.

The trio's music isn't essentially happy but not completely depressive either. As mentioned above, it is an expression of the real world so for that purpose there has to be a little bit of this and that.

Talking about specific tunes, the opening composition "Northbound Image" does have a slight northbound taste to it, though maybe there should be even more. "Urban Descension" and "Life Modes" both contain a fair dosage of free jazz. The latter, as the final tune of the album, ends with a symbolic almost-a-minute of silence, during which one can hear only a little something in the background. The title tune "Contact" is one of the most energetic compositions. Here Blanco's modern handwriting is really let loose; however, the tune itself is quite complex and has a sudden ending.

Considering the fact that Contact is only the trio's debut album and it already leaves a lasting impression on the listener, one can imagine what kind of musical journeys might there be in store. Of course, there are always things to nag about -- like the mood changes are too sudden at some points -- but the positive sides completely overpower the negative.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Ester Eggert

9 June 2007

what's new