It doesn’t seem right that a record could sit on the shelf for 16 years then sound so fresh when it finally becomes available. But that’s the case with this superb disc from pianist Bill Carrothers. The approach may be standard piano trio, but the results are top-flight modern jazz.
A spirited take of Ornette Coleman’s “When Will the Blues Leave” gets the record rolling immediately. Carrothers’ attacks on dissonant chords locks in with Bill Stewart’s rumbling drum fills and Gary Peacock’s resonant bass lines. A quietly beautiful performance of Toots Thielemans’ “Jesus’ Last Ballad” also proves quite effective. The piece begins with Carrothers playing brooding, low-register chords underneath haunting, single-note right-hand phrases, then moves into slightly brighter territory while retaining its contemplative mood.
Carrothers penned four of the disc’s nine diverse tracks. A lyrical ballad, “Hope Song” works in some gospel motifs and features typically adept playing from Peacock. Elsewhere, Carrothers’ slightly angular phrasing leads the charge on the swinging, mid-tempo title track. As a soloist, Carrothers always manages to surprise; check out his atonal left-hand phrases in the middle of “Hope Song,” as he bends the tune’s structure without breaking it.
It’s hard to fathom why these tracks weren’t released back in 1992. Fortunately, quality music doesn’t carry an expiration date.
- John Frederick Moore