Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Yago Vazquez/Scott Lee/Jeff Hirshfield: Stream (2015)

Yago Vazquez/Scott Lee/Jeff Hirshfield: Stream
These are good times for piano trios. Emerging groups like those of Pier Luigi Salami and Romain Collin, as well as the more establish work of Stefano Battaglia, have contributed to a recent spate of highly creative and renewed approaches to the format. Add to that list pianist Yago Vazquez, bassist Scott Lee, and drummer Jeff Hirshfield, collectively known as Stream, with their debut release of the same name. While Vazquez is in the process of establishing his resume, the mix of veterans and a relatively new face works well here.

The well-established Lee has recorded or performed with the late Chet Baker, saxophonists Lee Konitz and Joe Lovano along with Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Werner and countless others. His versatile career has included a role with the Metropolitan Opera Guild as well. Lee wrote nine of the fourteen tracks on Stream while three are penned by Vazquez and two are group improvisations. The other veteran player, Hirshfield, has an equally diverse background including a stint with the Joffrey Ballet and later with bandleader/composer Toshiko Akiyoshi, Tim Berne and Paul Bley as well as many other well-known artists.

Vazquez composed the title track which opens the album and quickly establishes that both quirky and intelligent approaches are welcome on Stream. "On Your Own"—the first of Lee's compositions—begins at a leisurely pace and takes its time building. Like the subsequent "F World," these pieces are solidly structured but leave both Lee and Vazquez plenty of room to improvise while Hirshfield deftly keeps the moving targets on the same page. "Nocturno" plays out like a lullaby though it rises and falls unexpectedly and is edged with unique personality.

The disconcerting "Times Square" is the first of the two group improvisations and is sometimes dark, sometimes chaotic. In comparison, a very brief "The Cloisters" is gently led by Vazquez' luminous piano and doesn't stray far from the central theme. Vazquez, Lee and Hirshfield have been playing together for roughly the past two years and have developed an effective and empathic method that works nicely across a variety of styles. Stream is fine first outing that should be of interest to those who like the piano trio format with a more adventurous feel.

Track Listing: Stream; On Your Own; F World; Nocturne; 456; Blue Country; Same But Different; Miniatura; New Old; Times Square; Missing One; Brake Tune; NoWhere; The Cloisters.

Personnel: Yago Vazquez: piano; Scott Lee: bass; Jeff Hirshfield: drums.

Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent

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