Life before 'The Bad Plus', when he had hair, playing 'standards' but not as you know them! Iverson´s first recordings for Fresh Sound are showcases for his working trio with Reid Anderson and Jorge Rossy. The originals are theatrical and the standards are treated with love and disrespect, Iverson´s trio´s performances are of concert hall proportions (Howard Mandel, Downbeat). Deconstruction Zone (Standards) was chosen as one of the best recordings of 1998 by Peter Watrous in the New York Times.
A product of Fresh Sound’s programme for finding and promoting new jazz talent, this CD has the Johnson trio playing abstract lines written by the bassist and improvised on by his two colleagues. Knuffke fashions fascinating melodic cornet statements as the bassist swirls all round him with roving pizzicato bass lines, double stops and exotic arco work.
This session sprang from cross-border encounters between its principals. Dutch pianist Van Asselt invited Cuban trumpeter Vistel to perform with him in Holland, and Vistel reciprocated by organising a get-together in Madrid. A self-confessed melodist, Van Asselt is given to pensive moods, which contrast with Vistel’s eagerness to be on the go. This difference is exploited by the pianist in his opening composition. The Cuban defers to his partner’s prevailing sensibility in Para Elis, though the keyboard vocabulary is being extended to match the trumpet’s panache. By the fourth track a band is being put together with the arrival of Vistel’s saxophonist brother, Maikel, who also features on a further two numbers.
I wondered for a brief moment whether the title referenced the Trinity, but suspect that this music comes from a different place. There’s a dark, almost Hebraic quality to the bassist’s writing and the trio, far from being invisible, is strongly foregrounded at all times. This is a challenging format, though Johnson’s bowed figures and strong, throbbing solos make up for the lack of a harmony instrument. The Pretzel is a nicely salty, twisted line that gets the three voices working together. The title track is a mournful-sounding horn chorale over singing bass harmonics. Moving Vehicle is light, mobile bop and sparks a great solo from Ravitz.