Rudresh Mahanthappa, Hero Trio

A great blowing record and probably the best chance yet to revel in the sheer exuberance of the colossal alto playing of Rudresh Mahanthappa. This trio setting allows him plenty of room to roam and he is in the company of two fine players in …

Published: 21 Jun 2020. Updated: 14 days.

A great blowing record and probably the best chance yet to revel in the sheer exuberance of the colossal alto playing of Rudresh Mahanthappa. This trio setting allows him plenty of room to roam and he is in the company of two fine players in François Moutin on acoustic bass and Rudy Royston on drums. They let him do his thing and factor in plenty of supportive touches. But this record is all about the alto. It's also a strong bebop statement but Rudresh manages not to indulge himself too much and just sound retro although there are moments when he does add that extra element of dreamy nostalgia. 'Barbados' is one of the best tracks, the bebop warhorse is set up in a sinuous unusual fashion, you'd be pushed to recognise what the tune will be for a while. Hero trio also includes plenty of staples, 'I Can't Get Started' and 'I'll Remember April' among them, with the quirky inclusion of 'Ring of Fire' providing a little off-piste fun. Highly recommended. One of Whirlwind's best releases in ages.

Tags: 2020 best so far tracks / albumsAlbum reviews

Micah Thomas, Tide

A fairly new name to me, although he flickered on the marlbank radar last year on Harish Raghavan's record Calls For Action pianist Micah Thomas begins on 'Tornado' like a benevolent ghost from a Bud Powell or Lennie Tristano universe, a tumbling …

Published: 20 Jun 2020. Updated: 15 days.

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A fairly new name to me, although he flickered on the marlbank radar last year on Harish Raghavan's record Calls For Action pianist Micah Thomas begins on 'Tornado' like a benevolent ghost from a Bud Powell or Lennie Tristano universe, a tumbling opaque sense emerging from the piano, the hustle of drums and bass swirling around to envelop the sound and grab hold of your ears.

Tide is a live album recorded in a New York hotel last year but feels like a studio meditation and finds the pianist who studied at Julliard here with two other unknowns bassist Dean Torrey and drummer Kyle Benford. Thomas plays around with Mahler on 'The Game' and otherwise knows his way around what makes a contemporary piano trio tick, there's a certain ominous darkness to his approach and a willingness to divert away from what you might expect. 'Across My Path' has an appealing tenderness to it and opens up the trio to let it breath a bit more. And as for 'Grounds' it has a joyous skip to it that again could belong in a Bud Powell universe while Torrey is very impressive on the poignant 'The Day After'. This album quietly slipped out feels like a real find and one I'll be returning to regularly and very often. Out now.