As perfectly inventive, intuitive, conversational and emotionally impactful as jazz trio dates get, Joe Wittman’s long awaited debut album Trio Works Sol is rooted in gigging over the course of 10 years in NYC with bassist Daniel Duke and drummer Keith Balla. In the promo materials, there’s no mention of why this was the perfect time to finally capture their fusion of coolness and explosive ventures in a studio setting.
What’s noteworthy, however, is the fact that their aim was to be as organic as possible, capturing every ounce of their raw, loose and fun-filled melodic, rhythmic and improvisational energy live in a single room – like a gig with the much smaller audience of engineer Chris Sulit at Trading 8ths Studio in Paramus, NJ. Suffice to say, mission more than accomplished as we venture from the snappy, bustling opening jam “The Judge” and witty, whimsical and wow-inducing infectious “Big Sip Riser” through the bittersweet melancholy moods of Mel Torme’s “Born To Be Blue” and the funky, strutting and ever-booming “Boogie for Bloomfield.”
While the peppy, high-energy tunes with trippy rhythms (that’s you, “Isiah Restored” and the polyrhythmic three-four groovathon “Three-Trick Pony”) will snag your attention from the start, there’s equal pleasure to be had in repeated listenings of the straightforward drum brush-filled ballad arrangement of “Sweet Lorraine” and the dark, haunting meditation “Felon Wind,” whose title is as intriguing as Wittman’s methodical interaction with Balla’s hypnotic drum patterns.