Will Vinson / Gilad Hekselman / Antonio Sanchez ‘Trio Grande’ LP/CD (Whirlwind Recordings) 5/5

What happens when three of the world’s most accomplished jazz musicians get together for a new trio project? Fireworks! … and an innovative, exhilarating debut album. Saxophonist (plus keys) Will Vinson, drummer Antonio Sanchez and guitarist Gilad Hekselman first came together at the legendary club Cornelia Street Cafe, and the chemistry and excitement was immediate. Their intuitive musical connection is obvious to hear on this stunning recording, as all three musicians combine so creatively well together, following their impulses to make an album that sparks with electricity, surprising and delighting with its freshness and originality.

As a listener, it’s clear to hear how the musicians must have inspired each other on this session. The threesome all come from different backgrounds with many varied musical influences, and as with all the best collaborations, especially trios, there’s a magic captured on this recording that is seemingly undefinable. As Will Vinson says; “We’re all grounded in jazz but all of us are also looking for other sounds and influences to bring in- that’s what we have in common, and what sets us apart is that all our sounds and influences are so different.” The scope of the trio’s openness and no-limits approach to music-making is vast, and the resulting music is utterly compelling.

The trio share the compositional credits, with eight tracks on the album. Available on CD, DL and limited edition double vinyl LP, the LP also contains three bonus tracks which is a nice touch. The album opens with “Northbound”, a Sanchez tune, with its powerfully insistent guitar riff cleverly underpinning the whole piece. Hekselman’s “Elli Yeled Tov” dances for joy with an uplifting carnival atmosphere. One of the most compelling tunes on the album is Vinson’s “Oberkampf”, a brooding atmospheric piece which features contrasting solos from Hekselman and Vinson. Another Vinson original, “Upside”, is much lighter and breezy, with an elegant catchiness running through its swinging melody. With an obvious nod to guitarist John Scofield, Hekselman’s “Scoville” allows the writer to flex his guitar chops whilst paying homage to the great master. Perhaps the most adventurous piece on the album, Sanchez’s “Gocta” is quite simply a magnificent example of jazz-fusion at its very best. This is an electrifying piece of music from start to finish, bringing home just how original and exciting this trio are. Also written by Sanchez, “Firenze” is lower-key, yet none-the-less satisfying, with the trio performing freely over its pleasing jazz structure. The album closes with a beautiful, masterful ballad from Hekselman, “Will You Let It”. Its haunting melody and subtle performances make this a gorgeous end to what is quite clearly an inspiring, wonderful album.

Mike Gates

Read also:
Will Vinson ‘Perfectly Out Of Place’ CD (5Passion) 4/5
Gilad Hekselman ‘Homes’ CD (JazzVillage) 3/5
Antonio Sanchez & Migration ‘The Meridian Suite’ 2LP/CD (CAM Jazz) 4/5