I am still unsure if I like the idea of reviewing a piece (or pieces) of music after misplacing the notes from the label. This was one of a few albums I was given to review and I had not heard of Autobahn before, did not know their style, did not know whether Autobahn was a large ensemble of musicians or just a couple of people making music on their computer. ‘Blind’ is an understatement when I first clicked the play button on their album called ‘Of the Tree’.
The first track was ‘Grounded’ which sounded like a subtle improvised free flow of ideas featuring prepared piano and what I couldn’t help thinking was a tympani. This soon fades off into the ether and we’re met with a swirling piano introduction which leads into some no-nonsense drums and no-messing saxophone – we are now listening to track two ‘Primrose Princess (Pt. 1)’. The musicians do not let their foot off the pedal with this powerhouse of a song but importantly don’t make you feel like you’ve just been beaten up in a drunken bar brawl. “Ooooh, these guys are good”, I say to myself as I type the band name into my search engine.
It was confirmed that these guys are good because I found out that they are a Canadian trio (James Hill – piano, Jeff LaRochelle – saxophones and clarinet, and drummer Ian Wright) that does not consist of a bass and I did not pick up on that at all.
They take things right down on ‘Tribute’ with the trio of piano, clarinet & drums sounding dreamy and almost trance-like – a nicely eerie piece.
‘Forgiveness’ sounds like it was written many years before as it feels familiar with its introductory piano motif which is then joined by the tenor sax growing with intensity. The piano then lays out leaving sax and drums to complement yet at the same time ‘battle’ each other. Sax then sits out whilst James Hill shows what he can do on those keys. This music particularly shows the essence of this wonderfully cohesive trio.
Dare I call ‘Reverie’ a quiet introspective piece..? Well, it certainly started off in that vein with a near minute and a half beautiful solo piano but things build up and the song ends with all musicians having ‘made their statement’.
‘Glass’ is another strong track and one that runs the gamut of musical emotion from soft breezes to the intensity that we are coming to learn goes with the territory of listening to these guys.
These three young men read each other so very well indeed – and that makes their sound a joy to listen to. They make original acoustic modern jazz music without trying to make you feel you need a mathematics degree to understand it. And at the same time they don’t try to reinvent the wheel – they just simply make a few interesting kinks in it.
This is a CD that you can sit down and listen to from the first track to the last.