Three records from some of the best piano trios playing today:
In My Element is a perfect title for this record, as Glasper and company never seem to push their boundaries. Everything is well-executed, and there are flashes of brilliance, most notably a great re-working of Sam Rivers’ “Beatrice”. The song-first approach is great, but part of me just kept waiting for this group to cut loose and flex a little.
This is easily the record I was most looking forward to this year, and I was not disappointed. The playing here is exactly what we’ve come to expect from TBP- virtuosic, inventive, quirky- but for the first time it is the compositions that carry the record. “The Radio Tower Has a Beating Heart” sounds like a piano trio performing a symphony, “Beryl Loves to Dance” explodes with freedom and “People Like You” displays a tenderness that can be lost in their usual bombast. The title track below is pure pop candy, just begging for some enterprising DJ to cut a club mix.
From the descending motif that opens “Blue Blocks” right through the last ringing note of “Old Babies” this record had me. Its rare that a band can be this consistent while being so inventive. There’s some time left, but I’d be surprised if this isn’t my album of the year.