Crosscurrents Trio ‘Good Hope’ 2LP/CD (Edition) 5/5

Under the collective group name of Crosscurrents Trio, bassist Dave Holland, percussionist Zakir Hussain and saxophonist Chris Potter are justifiably billed as three of the best in the world on their respective instruments. The band was originally brought together by Zakir Hussain as a large group project; Crosscurrents, featuring Holland and Potter alongside other Indian musicians, Shankar Mahadevan on vocals, Louiz Banks on piano, Gino Banks on drums and Sanjay Divecha on guitar. The trio came about as a result of the larger group and went on to tour throughout the summer of 2018 before recording this album in September ‘18.

For Potter, working with this band was enlightening: “I have to admit I was a little nervous about the trio setting since Zakir and Dave are two of the most amazing maestros on the planet. Also, it is a very exposed role for the saxophone, and playing with only tabla and bass is rather unfamiliar sonic territory. However the chemistry immediately felt great, and the problems of reconciling musical differences between the jazz language and the Indian classical language immediately melted away playing with musicians who listen so well. It’s been a huge joy for me to be part of this project, and reaffirms my belief in the power of music as a beautiful way of bringing people together from different backgrounds and traditions.” This is, of course, a sentiment that Hussain, in particular, has lived by for many years. His creative collaborations over the decades have brought together East-West musicians, breaking down boundaries and opening up new experiences for musicians and listeners alike on numerous occasions. From Shakti with John McLaughlin and L. Shankar, to Sangam, with Charles Lloyd and Eric Harland, to name just two immediately recognisable groups.

And so “Good Hope” really is an album built on mutual respect, as I suspect, any trio of this kind has to be for it to work well. All three musicians obviously share a love of the music and are dedicated to musical and cultural integration, and it’s a pleasure and inspiration to hear them in this trio setting, open to the elements, open to each other, and embracing their love of music to create a quite awesome and blistering set of tunes. The musical conversations are exquisite, with subtle nuances and skilful intensity clear for all to hear. The collaborative nature of the album extends to the compositional duties, with three tunes written by Potter, two by Hussain and three by Holland. To be honest, listen ‘blind’ and it would be difficult to say who wrote which tunes, a testimony to the fact that there is a rare skill and understanding, indeed a mastery at work from each musician involved here.

Recorded at Sear Sound, NYC, engineer Chris Allen has captured perfectly the detail of the instruments, with a warmth and clarity that does justice to the performances. Hussain’s textural palette is as spellbinding as ever, Holland’s improvisatory instincts as engrossing as always, and Potter’s fiery intensity and breathtaking pyrotechnics unmistakably awe-inspiring. One could run out of superlatives trying to describe this music. Put simply, it is a masterclass in musicianship.

The Crosscurrents Trio embark on a European Tour throughout October and November, finishing up at Cadogan Hall as part of the London Jazz Festival on 17th November.

Oct. 23 – Enjoy Jazz Festival, Heidelberg, Germany
Oct. 24 – Halle 02 / Frankfurt Jazz Festival, Germany
Oct. 25 – Philharmonie Luxembourg Grand Auditorium, Luxembourg
Oct. 26 – Teatro Comunale di Cormons, Italy
Oct. 27 – Moods Club, Zurich, Switzerland
Oct. 29 – MoMkult, Budapest, Hungary
Oct. 30 – Zagreb Youth Theater, Zagreb, Croatia
Oct. 31 – Kulturni Centar Panceva Pancevacki, Pancevo, Serbia
Nov. 1 – Tampere Music Festival, Tampere, Finland
Nov. 3 – Casino de Montbenon, Lausanne, Switzerland
Nov. 5 – Teatro Massimo, Pescara, Italy
Nov. 6 – Auditorium Parco Della Musicasala, Rome, Italy
Nov. 8 – Unipol Auditorium / Bologna Jazz, Bologna, Italy
Nov. 9 – BARTS / Barcelona Jazz Festival, Spain
Nov. 13 – Réunion Island, France
Nov. 16 – La Seine Musicale Acoustic Room, Boulogne – Billancourt, France
Nov. 17 – Cadogan Hall, London Jazz Festival, UK

Mike Gates