Personnel: Clay Giberson (piano); Bob Stark (recorder); Dave Ambrosio (bass guitar); Matt Garrity (drums).
Audio Mixer: Bob Stark .
Recording information: Kung Fu Bakery, Portland, OR (08/28/2007-03/20/2008).
Photographer: Todd Bishop.
For his fourth release on Origin (not counting a handful of albums with his Upper Left Trio), pianist Clay Giberson reunited with a pair of New York accomplices to fill out a piano trio extraordinaire. The majority of the pieces are original compositions from Giberson, with the exception of the album-opening Rodgers & Hammerstein number and a stray (but excellent) Miles Davis piece near the end of the set. The compositions are well-crafted, with ornamentation in the right places and straightforward melody in the right places. The star of the show, though, is the execution. While bassist David Ambrosio tends to stay in the background, his sparse style serves the pieces well on the whole. Drummer Matt Garrity works in a similar fashion, making himself heard a bit more but always fluidly shifting from staccato fill patterns to soft accompaniments in just the way the composition seems to need. Giberson is the key player, however, commanding the listener's attention from the piano bench with ease. He makes use of simple chord progressions from time to time to move the composition along, but it's when he's working his way through a long extended solo that he really shines -- his delivery doesn't show any unnecessary force, though it doesn't quite twinkle lightly either. He uses exactly the touch that the movement needs, blowing through arpeggios with ease and accompanying his own flights of fantasy in a space hidden somewhere in the wide spectrum between a Chick Corea and a Thelonious Monk (listen to the title track in particular for a taste of these endpoints, tucked away in an outstanding solo). This music demands your attention with its complexity, but the artistry will pay dividends for that attention. ~ Adam Greenberg