The album shows the trio and their new musical partners pushing boundaries as exploring new territories.
Earshift Music EAR 070
Sean Foran (piano); John Parker (drums); Samuel Vincent (double bass); Danny Widdicombe (pedal steel guitar); Nicole Tait (bassoon); Thomas Green (keyboards)
Is this experimental jazz? It’s not experimental because it borrows from other genres and incorporates an improvisational approach to their compositions.
Nor is it experimental because of their marriage of classical and ambient music, decorating it with touches of jazz added to make their music move. To Vanish is a meeting of musical minds. One is acoustic, the other electric. One diatonic and the other atmospheric.
Each mind borrows and reflects the other build compositions greater than the sum of their parts. The attitude that governs that band’s approach to this music makes it experimental.
As pianist Sean Foran says. “Once Covid was upon us, we took our time to craft this recording into something more… some guest artists, plus we added more layers. It was an interesting creative process, and it took the music in a fascinating direction.”
The use of repeated melodies and motifs in the songs morph into different sonic shapes as the blend of acoustic and electronic instrumentation paint different sounds and senses using their different textures.
Acoustic instruments drive melody and harmony while electronic instruments add ambiance and a depth that sounds more organic than one might expect it to sound. To Vanish blends acoustic and electric music effectively and seamlessly.
On Forward Motion, atmospheric and marches toward an unknown destination. The Moody sustain of Danny Widdicombe’s pedal steel guitar adds an unexpected dimension to the song.
Repeated patterns from different instruments as building blocks for each song. However, this is not minimalist music. In Mercury, Samuel Vincent’s ostinato bass moves over electronically augmented drums. The piano continues the pattern and then dances on top of the thrumming music below it.
Study begins as a classical etude with electronic underpinnings. Bowed double bass adds sustained and dramatic depth before the piano exchanges its etude for a chordal motif. The addition of keyboards and electronic drums provides the song with a greater ambience.
A chugging groove starts It Bodes Well and is overlayed with piano and more ostinato patterns from the bassoon. This song combines its disparate elements and makes a compelling argument for the thesis of the album.
Reassemble takes the statement in bodes well and deepens it, lessening the separation between acoustic and electronic instruments. That clash of timbres dissolves into a piano-led coda where the electronic keyboards bubble in support of the lovely piano.
A Sense of Ordered Chaos, In Times Past and Present, and Lynette are the most traditionally leaning jazz songs in this collection with subtle electronic underpinnings which only tease toward their more atmospheric leanings.
To Vanish is the loveliest song on the album and perhaps offers the most testimony in support of the album’s thesis. Fibonacci sounds as mathematical as its name, with the bassoon adding gravitas to its sound. This is the most overtly electronic music on the album.
Even with the talented and expanded ensemble of musicians and the album’s hybrid approach, this is still a piano album. Sean Foram’s piano playing is the heart of every song and that is nowhere more evident than on the album closer, Lynette.
Trichotomy’s music has always been vibrant, textural, and smart; the music on To Vanish is no different. The album shows the trio and their new musical partners pushing boundaries as exploring new territories.
As drummer John Parkers explains, “It’s different from anything we’ve previously released. I think so much of the stuff we’ve been working on, the electronics, the projects with percussion and Danny… All of this has translated into a lush, fluid sound.”
Reviewed by Ben Miller