According to the American Heritage dictionary, "consilience" is a noun meaning: "The agreement of two or more inductions drawn from different sets of data, or better yet a concurrence"... In his own unique way, that is exactly what the Vinson Valega Trio has come up with on their recording entitled Consilience, which by any stretch runs the gamut of converging like-minded ideas in a progressive musical setting. In a culture where jazz is often relegated to primeval status, it is refreshing to see artists utilize their intuitive creative spirit for a change. In addition, rarely is there an opportunity for a drummer to be the center of attention as is the case on Valega’s release. What is most notable is Consilience’s polyrhythmic patterns coupled with an underlying groove that seems to pop-up at various times unexpectedly. On one track entitled "Jiminy Cricket Goes to the Go-Go Dance", you find drummer Vinson Vilega leading the way with saxophonist Anton Denner and bassist Gary Wang in hot pursuit. That cut prepares listeners for a trip that leads down a path of mutual concurrence and an amalgamation of intuitive conceptualized ideas.
From the onset, Consilience is an attention getter, especially with the amount of depth the CD expounds upon. With a trio as the backdrop, I found it difficult to find any obstacles inhibiting Valega’s approach, creativity and originality. All three instruments are strong lyrically, with each one exhibiting the freedom to express their own uniqueness qualitatively. Collectively, the Vinson Valega Trio makes a dynamic statement filled with 13 tracks of progressive jazz that has all of the earmarks of beautifully crafted music, especially of the type emanating from a drummer who serves as the group’s leader. Everyone involved with this CD exhibits a well-conceived level of chemistry that allows them to weave a web of artistic magic. They run the gamut of original tracks and some of America’s best loved cover songs, to include contributions from Rogers & Hart, Billy Strayhorn, Irvin Berlin, Michel LeGrand, and Andrew Hill. One song in particular entitled "You Must Believe in Spring" by LeGrand allows Anton Denner on flute and Gary Wang to converse amongst one another. The fluid-like resolution of their interaction is magical, as well as the meaningful magic that ensues between. That is another aspect of Consilience that makes the album so compelling; Vinson Valega is not the only voice that listeners are allowed to hear. Anton Denner also contributes to Consilience with a beautifully crafted cut entitled "Tide Pools", which allows the saxophonist/flutist to showcase his writing skills as well as those of a master instrumentalist.
Overall, Consilience is a highly stylized structured recording that will not be heard over the airwaves of smooth jazz radio; however, the CD is one that you will personally enjoy. Word of mouth and the talented exploits of The Vinson Valega Trio will propel this album beyond the confines of obscurity. It is sad that talent such as this is often relegated to hearing it where you can, which in itself is not all bad. At least Consilience is out there to be heard. As uniquely promising as this CD is, words are not enough to describe its versatility. The album is filled with energized rhythms, smooth melodic structures and understated harmonies; many of which are not only surprising, but are are also thought-provoking. There are mind-blowing solos as well as well-rounded augmentations of some of the finest composers and innovators in music. But make no mistake about this recording, The Vinson Valega Trio has put together a CD that provides their own level of concurrence; one that speaks volumes of their adaptabilities as musicians, as well as their ability to express the uniqueness of jazz as an art form.