This Friday Intakt Records will release Visiting Texture, its latest recording of the adventurous group that calls itself Trio 3. As usual, Amazon.com has already created the Web page for this item and is processing pre-orders. The group’s members were three of the most adventurous jazz musicians during the second half of the last century. I first wrote about them on Examiner.com; but, since that article has been “purged” from the Web, I feel it appropriate to review their credentials again.
The saxophonist is Oliver Lake, a founding member of the World Saxophone Quartet, known not only for its pursuit of African jazz but also for shaking up the rhythms of funk with the influences of free jazz. The drummer is Andrew Cyrille, no stranger to free jazz, particularly through his extended work with Cecil Taylor. Finally, bass is taken by Reggie Workman, a former member of the John Coltrane Quartet, who participated in the Impulse! recordings Africa/Brass and Impressions. Workman also worked with Lake on the 1993 Black Saint recording Edge-ing.
Curiously, this is the first studio recording the group has made as a trio. My first encounter with them was the album Refraction – Breakin’ Glass, which they recorded with pianist Jason Moran and was released in August of 2013. Then, in August of 2014, Intakt released Wiring, on which they worked with another pianist, Vijay Iyer. I previously described both of these sessions as “intergenerational;” and they both made for very absorbing listening.
Like the past albums, the tracks on this album reflect a fair amount of collaboration in making the music. Leadership is shared across all three members; and one of the tracks, “Composite,” cites all three of them as composers. However, one of the tracks, “A Girl Named Rainbow,” is an Ornette Coleman composition. Lake never worked with Coleman, but there are signs throughout this album that he was a keen listener. This is not to say that this is an example of Lake flattering through imitation, but it might be fair to say that Coleman’s aggressive blowing was more of an influence on Lake than was Coltrane’s somewhat more cerebral approach.
The nice thing about the collaborative work that Trio 3 has performed is that it shows a sincere interest in passing the torch. From that point of view, it is through Visiting Texture that listeners who were not around fifty years ago may get a better sense of what torch is being passed. I have no problem confessing that it is hard for me to listen to this group without feeling nostalgic, but readers of this site know that I worry a good deal about our becoming a culture that is willfully ignorant of history. The fact is that historical foundations are just as important in listening to jazz, particularly when it involves styles that were called “avant-garde” at one time or another, as they are in sorting out past centuries of the classical repertoire. I thus find myself strongly advocating this album in the name of “context-building” in the hope that at least some of my readers will recognize the value of that context!