By Lloyd Sachs | Published May 2020
It’s been about a decade since drummer Phil Haynes, pianist Steve Rudolph and bassist Drew Gress recorded Day Dream, the fine standards collection after which their trio is named. Returning to the fold, the distinguished threesome have flipped the conceptual switch and delivered a set of buoyant originals.
Their chemistry has lost nothing to the intervening years. This is a trio that truly is more than the sum of its parts, attaining vibrancy and color through a melding of Gress’ deep, shapely tones, Haynes’ probing, loose-limbed accents and Rudolph’s heady lyricism. There’s a fullness to the performance that you don’t usually hear in occasional trios—or even steadily working ones.
Extrapolating from Bill Evans’ “Blue In Green,” Haynes’ tender ballad “Paul-Christian” is an affecting dual tribute to two departed friends and colleagues, trumpeter Paul Smoker and producer Christian Kvech. Perhaps the highlight of Originals, produced by Haynes, is his lovely, offbeat celebration of his wife, “Beloved Refracted.” Proceeding from a stately drum introduction and fragmented melody that offers hints of Abdullah Ibrahim’s folk-tuneful sound, the performance coalesces around Gress’ heartfelt lines and opens up like a pretty flower.
Originals: Zebra (For Claude); Wedding Waltz; Beloved Refracted; Afterward; Vesper; Last Lullaby; Spell; Bossa 21 (For Katie); Paul-Christian; Let Fly. (57:44)
Personnel: Steve Rudolph, piano; Drew Gress, bass; Phil Haynes, drums.