The Brett Sandler Trio EP is the self-titled recording debut of this progressive jazz group. The trio is comprised of Brett Sandler on piano, Peter Longofono on electric bass and Adam Pin on drums. The EP features four songs, although three of them exceed seven minutes in length. The music is written so that there is much breathing room for the instrumentalists to explore each tune. That said, each of the compositions on this recording are written well-enough to hold the listener's interest apart from the solos.
The first cut, "Weight," makes a pleasant opener. It's repetitive bass motif and floating piano chords seem clearly modeled after Duke Ellington's classic "Fleurette Africaine." The group takes a contemplative and unhurried approach to their ideas here, and it works. Rather than rely on flashy solos, the group creates a hypnotic mood piece with just enough development to prevent it from becoming boring over its eight minute running time.
The curiously titled " I Am an Espionage Major" is a bit more involved as a composition. It has its edgy moments, but Brett Sandler shows a good ear for resolution. Sandler and Longofono each get plenty of room to stretch out here. Both musicians contribute exciting and fitting solos on this piece.
"The Things I Miss the Most" is another pleasant composition by Sandler. Sandler and Longofono again contribute outstanding solos. This recording closes with the outstanding "Madness Interactive," the most challenging and involved track on the EP. The song is built on a rolling, repetitive left hand motif from Sandler, punctuated with percussive chords on top. This riff is occasionally broken up by elegant and searching arpeggios from Sandler, but it always returns, though it certainly mutates and evolves a few times. Longofono again turns in an excellent performance, emphasizing Sandler's left hand parts for most of the song, but adding nimble and powerful fills throughout. Adam Pin lets loose near the end of this track and turns his finest solo in the process. Sandler's solo is full of twists and turns, reaching outside and back in with purpose and confidence. Tracks like this one show that the Brett Sandler Trio is a young group worth watching.
Considering that the group recorded, produced and released this EP by themselves, the production is not bad. Everything is clear and direct, if lacking a certain polish. The playing is generally very good. Sometimes the drumming seems a little stiff, as if Adam Pin were not entirely comfortable during this session. When he is relaxed though, he can play well. The group's youth is certainly evident, and likely to cause the listener to smile a few times, but not in a bad way. Indeed, there is a certain exuberance to these recordings that is quite enjoyable, and the songs are by no means poorly executed or sloppy. Peter Longofono shows a command of his instrument that goes beyond his age and beyond mere technique. He is an instinctive rhythmic force, always aware of the context of the song. And Brett Sandler debuts as a thoughtful, mature composer and exciting soloist.
This EP was released digitally and is worth checking out, especially at its attractive price. Keep an eye out for this group— there is serious potential here.