Recommended to all jazz fans but especially to those fans who want a taste of an intriguing piano trio.

Origin Records: 82883

John Bishop (Drums), Piet Verbist (Bass), Bram Weijters (Piano)  

Recorded on May 9, 2023, at Rockstar Recordings, Niel, Antwerp, Belgium, by Jussi De Nys.

As a drummer, educator, record label owner (Origin Records), graphic designer, publisher, and festival presenter, John Bishop has been one of the primary voices in Northwest USA Jazz for over 40 years.  He has played drums in Hal Galper’s acclaimed “rubato” trio for the last 15 years and was with the band Scenes for 20 years.  He also played in the mid-80s piano trio New Stories.

Bishop explains that each band had a distinct, focused vision emphasizing the collective narrative on his website.  It is an apt description of this album’s trio.

Bishop has appeared on over 100 albums, including sessions with Hal Galper, Larry Coryell, Ernie Watts, Mark Murphy, Joe Locke, Bud Shank, George Cables, Ralph Towner, Teo Macero, and Jerry Bergonzi.

In 2010, Bishop met Piet Verbist and Bram Weijters in Belgium. Over the years, they developed a close friendship, and Bishop visited them every year after the pandemic subsided.  During Bishop’s trip to Antwerp in Spring 2023, the three friends decided to record some music together.  They titled the album “Antwerp” as a tribute to their years of friendship and shared experiences.

The opening song, “Ruchsichtslos,” translated as reckless or inconsiderate, proceeds apace with all three trio members playing well together as the song rolls along.  The drummer builds up to the pulse drumming made famous by Elvin Jones of the John Coltrane quartet.  The bassist’s solo is in the pocket as the piano and drum spur him along.  He and the pianist drive each other to various heights during the song.  Weijters has a dazzling piano style.

“Trip the Light Fantastic” is a melodious Hal Galper tune.  This version adheres more closely to the time, beat, and measures rather than the ‘Rubato’ trio’s method of stretching the tune.  Once again, bassist Verbist takes a concise solo picked up by the pianist who plays the romantic song.  The trio concludes the song with a well-played trio section.

“Pointing at the Moon,” composed by the bassist, is a beautiful tune played well by this trio.  Each member takes a lead as they trade off the tune amongst one another.  Bishop’s drum propels both the pianist and bassist during the middle section.

This is a consummate set by a trio well-versed in soloing and accompanying each other.  All are equals in the band.  It is hard to imagine what the impact of removing one of the members would be.  They are an excellent band playing on a beautiful album.  Recommended to all jazz fans but especially to those fans who want a taste of an intriguing piano trio.