Myriad3 ‘Moons’ CD/DIG (Alma) 4/5

myriad3“Moons” is the engrossing third album from Myriad3, an eclectic jazz-rooted trio comprising pianist Chris Donnelly, bassist Dan Fortin and drummer Ernesto Cervini. Each band member brings original material to the group, resulting in an intriguing and often beguiling set of tunes. There’s a refreshing variety to the trio’s tunes, no doubt due in some respect to the fact that the compositions are spread between the three band members. Fortin explains that “We all write with our distinctive style but we’re very much informed by the others. I write a very different kind of song for this band compared with other projects, and Chris and Ernesto’s songwriting is a real influence on me.” For the listener what this means is that although there is healthy variation, it’s also pleasantly hinged together by the understanding and collective interplay between the three musicians. This works really well overall, with rarely a dull moment or an out of context tune to worry the listener’s ears. A dynamic act in performance, Myriad3 have successfully toured Canada, the US, Europe and Japan in recent years, and it’s good to hear them transferring this energy in such a positive way into a studio recording.

Eleven tunes grace this album, taking the listener on an eventful journey, one that has the potential to delight and surprise in equal measure. I particularly enjoyed the quirkiness and hard-edged feel of the opener “Skeleton Key”. This tune is known as a crowd pleaser apparently, and it’s easy to hear why. It has passion, verve and style and it’s anthemic qualities and uncompromising originality make it one of the stand-out tracks on the album. Fast forward to the closing track, and this gives a perfect example of just how skilfully adept the band are at creating an atmosphere – in this case in a beautifully subtle and engaging way. “Exhausted Clock” combines the talents of all three musicians so well, producing emotive music that is just as powerful when being introspective as when they power-up with a gleeful exhibitionism. There are plenty of wonderful moments to enjoy on the nine tracks that sit between the two aforementioned tunes. I loved the melancholic meanderings of “Stoner”, the dynamic “Sketch 8” and the dreamy yet ultimately contemporary feel of the title track “Moons”.

If you’re into your piano trios then this is an album well worth checking out. I’d say it’s slightly quirkier than the average trio album, but it’s undoubtedly all the better for it. Strong performances and songwriting that evokes a fearless sense of adventure make it stand out well above your average tried and tested piano trio session. It’s fresh, invigorating and spirited.

Mike Gates