By Robert Ham | Published December 2019
The piano trio is elemental to jazz; it’s the foundational rhythm section upon which so many great ensembles have been built. But on their own—just piano, bass and drums—those core instruments are given the room to explore, swing and show off an often-remarkable chemistry. At least, that’s the feeling that comes across most strongly on the second release by Yes! Trio.
This sensational meeting of players—pianist Aaron Goldberg, drummer Ali Jackson and bassist Omer Avital—is a near-perfect mixture of ingredients, bristling with braggadocious energy. While they lock together frequently, the album takes on the mode of a dance showdown or a rap battle—each musician showing off for the others and daring them to try and do better.
The resulting recording is close to overkill, though. The Latin groove of “Flow” is dominated, at first, by Jackson with each loud report of an agogô bell or brutal thud of his trap kit. But Avital takes the thread with a solo that emphasizes pinched tones and harshly plucked notes. Goldberg somehow finds space in their thick interplay, offering up supporting chords and a quivering, rollicking solo. Even the few ballads that sneak into the album’s tracklist are played as if under some kind of duress, with the three musicians straining against the milder tempos and romantic spirit of songs like “I’ll Be Seeing You” or Avital’s “C’est Clair.”
This is a trio that wants to soar. If those quiet moments give them time to regain their strength before bounding off down the hillside together, then they’re entirely worth it.
Groove Du Jour: Escalier; C’est Clair; Dr. Jackle; I’ll Be Seeing You; Muhammad’s Market; Claque; Tokyo Dream; Groove Du Jour; Flow; Bed-Stuy. (59:41)
Personnel: Aaron Goldberg, piano; Ali Jackson, drums; Omer Avital, bass.