By Jeff Potter | Published December 2020
Guitarist Gilad Hekselman, saxophonist Will Vinson and drummer Antonio Sánchez each have earned acclaim as bandleaders, and are in the vanguard of their instruments. But the beauty of this disc of originals is that it’s far more than an all-star session; there’s an exceptional connection here. Each player brings his singular vision to the plate, but the collective sum is something fresh and exhilarating. The trio’s jazz grounding openly embraces rock, funk and world influences, from the delightful Caribbean-tinged “Elli Yeled Tov” to the fuzz-edged, atmospheric “Oberkampf,” the crunchy alt-funk of “Scoville” and the heartfelt restraint of “Will You Let It.”
Although the trio eschews a bassist, Hekselman reimagines the role, using an octave pedal to “split” his guitar and create a foggy electric bass sound. Vinson’s alto saxophone soloing is stunning throughout, from his electrifying left turns on the frenetic, intergalactic jazz-rocker “Gocta” to the lyrical poignancy of “Firenze.” He also pulls out his lesser-used soprano for a soaring statement on “Northbound.” In addition, Vinson handles electric keyboards, artfully supplementing the shifting soundscapes. Sánchez’s work behind the kit offers aggressive grooves and keen interplay that—although frequently dense with notes—never steps on toes. Using a wide variation of muffled, unmuffled and prepared drum sounds, as well as conventional kit pieces, he creates a canvas suggesting a multimember precision percussion section. And when soloing, Sánchez brilliantly weaves within the ensemble, rather than just wailing over it. Daring and enjoyably unpredictable.
Trio Grande: Northbound; Elli Yeled Tov; Oberkampf; Upside; Scoville; Gocta; Firenze; Will You Let It. (56:55)
Personnel: Will Vinson, saxophones, keyboards; Gilad Hekselman, guitar; Antonio Sánchez, drums.