The music will of course continue to evolve, but right now this is a pretty good place to be.

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Abbie Finn (drums); Harry Keeble (tenor saxophone); Paul Granger (bass)

Over the course of the last few years, and of course three earlier albums, it has been most gratifying to follow the careers of this fine trio. It is immediately apparent that the group have worked hard at their music and in establishing a sound and repertoire for the trio that has continued to develop into an excellent small group.

That the trio have been prepared to travel and gig hard is undoubtably paying dividends. The trio often appear to have a freewheeling approach to their music, but ultimately Finn has a firm hand on the tiller and keeps things tight.

It is this very sense of form and dynamics within the music that keeps it so fresh. With Stotties for Three, Abbie Finn has composed all the music and a smart and snappy bunch of compositions they are too. Playing in such an exposed yet harmonically and rhythmically free setting a trio sans chordal instrument can be a tough gig, but the drummer having established a firm concept for her music and now taking control of writing duties brings an added depth to the music.

Saxophonist Keeble is developing into a sure-footed soloist with some interesting ideas of his own. He plays with a classic full and round tenor sound and paces his solos well. Paul Grainger brings a wealth of experience to bear on the trio, and is not there just to hold down the rhythm (that he does so admirably well, by the way) but contributes some fine solos and dialogues with both Finn and Keeble.

However, what I have enjoyed greatly in this new recording is the lean and economical compositions penned by the drummer, along with her wonderful playing. Always playing for the band, she also manages to contribute some of the most astute solos. Her sense of commentary with the bass and sax is right on the money, and in each and every track she has space to solo. If you think this sounds a little boring and one dimensional, then think again!

Finn has the good taste, chops and musicality to make everything count. Her solos are, if anything too short, and often uplift the piece still higher but never at the expense of flashy technique.

As if to state their case from the outset, ‘Nee Messin’’ serves notice with some nice solos all round, while ‘Into The Dene’ is an attractively paced ballad that is full of detail. ‘Where Are we Going For Lunch?’ just happens to be one of my most frequently used enquiries, and with the gentle swagger of Finn’s melodic composition and superb drumming in support and solo, I’m all for following along to which eatery they lead me too.

Once a band to watch out for, it is safe to say that they have now arrived. The music will of course continue to evolve, but right now this is a pretty good place to be.