Myriad3 ‘Vera’ CD (Alma) 4/5

The publicity for this album proudly proclaims that “Myriad3 is cutting edge, the future of modern jazz.” These are bold claims indeed, but does the music live up to the hyperbole?
This is the fourth album from the Toronto-based trio. It certainly showcases both the prowess of the musicians and their skills as composers. Myriad3 comprise Chris Donnelly (keyboards), Dan Fortin (bass) and Ernesto Cervini described intriguingly as drummer and multi-instrumentalist. In his capacity of multi-instrumentalist, Cervini includes bass clarinet, clarinet, flute, alto sax, glockenspiel and a host of additional percussion in his armoury. On paper, at least, this certainly has the makings of an intriguing set.

The album opens with ‘Pluie Lyonnaise’ from the pen of Donnelly. Unusually for an opening track, it has a powerfully ominous yet reflective feel. From around the two-minute point the mood changes to a more delicate rippling theme evoking the raindrops of the rainy concert in Lyons for which the piece was named. The piece brings to mind the restrained power of EST especially with the sparing use of studio overdubs. The following piece, ‘Tamboa’, initially makes use of a mallet instrument similar to a marimba and quickly builds in intensity with the bassist prominent in the mix, soon to be joined by the drummer. The fervour that they build up suddenly dissipates and the piece becomes rather more meditative. The pianist bringing to mind thoughts of the great British pianist John Taylor but then the intensity builds to a climax at the conclusion. ‘Ward Lock’ is next and is altogether more powerful. In marked contrast, ‘Diamond’ is more sedate and contemplative, at least to start, but again the intensity builds as the tune progresses. ‘Piano-Rag Music’ is great fun, managing to combine the traditional with more contemporary styling. Here I was reminded of another British giant of the piano, Les Dawson – listen and judge for yourself!
‘Fortress’ is an outstanding track, ushered in by the drummer and as it evolves it becomes almost funky. Bass clarinet makes an appearance on this one too. The trio seems to breathe as one entity on ‘DNA’. Again, I’m guessing that much fun was had by all on this. Insistent piano and bass open ‘Couche Tard’. Just as you think you know what is coming the trio spring another surprise with yet another change of direction, with Fender Rhodes piano overdubbed with acoustic piano enter into a most attractive dialogue. It’s only momentary however as the trio move once more into the hinterland of free form exploration, but only briefly, and then we are back to the lovely melodic statement to end the piece.
‘Meme Art’ has the feel of a rock anthem, at least at the outset. Again, the trio’s musical kaleidoscope of sound is at work as the mood changes several times before it runs its course.
The disk concludes with ‘Total’. This is a very pensive piece. It’s reminiscent of Tord Gustavsen with added fire power. So, is Myriad3 the future of modern jazz? In the end they are working in a densely populated area and there are many, dare I say even a myriad of piano trios out there for us to enjoy. The answer might be to buy the album and make your own minds up.

Alan Musson