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Feb. 15 - 22, 2001

[Music Reviews]

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*** Bob Nieske 3



Bassist Bob Nieske's trio makes airy, intimate, and lyrical free jazz that's easy to get next to. Nieske, trumpeter Phil Grenadier, and drummer Nat Mugavero are all careful listeners, which means the music can get busy without sounding crowded. But just as important, they can say a lot with a little. Each concise track on Simplicity packs an emotional wallop with a poetic minimum of notes. For instance, Nieske's moving solo on the haunting ballad "Wee Three" plumbs profound emotional depths with just a few simple notes. Drummer Mugavero's highly edited accompaniment is full of space and delicate shadings, but nevertheless provides drive and momentum. Grenadier harnesses a warm, dark tone and big vocabulary of expressive smears and frayed notes to an effortlessly lyrical approach that is a perfect foil to Nieske's own melodic inventiveness. When the trio locks into its three-way contrapuntal interplay, tunes like "The Stretch," "Emma," and "Phil's Thrill" achieve an organic unity heard only in the very best improvised music. On six of the album's 13 tracks, the Lydian String Quartet joins the trio to provide harmonic thickening and richer coloration.

Ed Hazell

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