CD Reviews

DANNY GREEN TRIO: After the Calm

danny green

The Danny Green Trio has released their first CD, After the Calm, and it is one of the most engaging jazz recordings, or any type of recording for that matter, that I’ve heard in recent years. From the first time I put this CD in the disk player, I was absolutely drawn in by this dynamic and fresh music by these three talented musicians.

The trio is Danny Green on piano – he also composed all ten of the tunes on the disk – Justin Grinnell on bass and Julien Cantelm on drums. From the ease and confidence of their interplay, it is obvious that these three young men have performed together for some time. Want to understand what I’m talking about? Listen to the Oscar Peterson trio’s album The Jerome Kern Songbook, which they recorded not long after Peterson, Ray Brown, and Ed Thigpen had formed the trio, then put on their West Side Story, an album they recorded three years later. See what I mean?

The compositions of After the Calm are solid, with many having a strong sense of playfulness. The fast changes that comprise many of the tunes are less about showing off or putting in a muscular performance than that of making a musical jungle gym to play around on. There is also a good variety to the compositions. After the fast paced “End of the Block” and “Thirty Springrolls Please” Green gives us the ethereal “In a Dreamy State.” I know that “Choro Pra Corrente” sounds like it’s Spanish, but it had me thinking of Mozart (#40 in G minor?). Wrapping up the disk is “I Got Kite,” which is jaunty and jocular. There is almost a full hour of music in this package, a big plus in my book.

Green is masterful in his command of the keyboard. Except in a few forté passages, his right hand comping is spare. He also uses the sustain pedal most effectively and judiciously. The result is a certain lightness and lyricality. This is perhaps the thing that so beguilingly hooked me on this recording. I loved the way Green maintains a strong lyrical quality even when he is playing through some fast-paced “Giant Steps” sort of changes. My guess is that when he was growing up, Green listened less to McCoy Tyner and more to Chick Corea.

Grinnell is both solid and lively, a difficult but essential dual function that bassists need to fill when they play in jazz trio configurations. This talent is apparent as he accompanies the trio on the Phrygian half cadence section of “Two Ways About It.” His lines are inventive and original as well.

I kept coming back to this CD, enjoying it again and again, one reason being Cantelm’s drums. He’s a tight player, with a great deal of musical interaction with Grinnell and Green.

This new disk gets my vote as one of the best local jazz recording to come out in this last year. A great big two thumbs up for After the Calm.

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