Ian Wallace, the former drummer with the progressive rock powerhouse band King Crimson, and who passed away in 2007, leads this jazz trio through a collection of tunes associated with Crimson - the band many consider to be the first "art rock" band ever created. Joining Wallace is pianist Jody Narone and bassist Tim Landers. Severely underrated, Narone earned his Bachelor of Music degree from William Paterson University and currently is a mainstay of the Nashville recording and performing community. He has worked with Annie Sellick, Bret Michaels, Jeff Black, Bob Delevante, The Floating Men, The Jim Hoke Nonet and Cyndi Wheeler. Landers, a Berklee College of Music graduate, has worked with a wide variety of artists including Al DiMeola, Gil Evans, Mike and Randy Brecker, Billy Cobham, David Byrne and Don Grolnick. He is also the original bassist in Vital Information. This band’s first recording, King Crimson Songbook Volume, was recorded in 2005. Volume two was recorded in 2006.
The result is a powerful and wide open collection of some of the most robust and brawny jazz trio music ever recorded. While The Bad Plus gets a lot of the press’ attention, those who are looking for a band with just as much firepower, if not more, will be pleasantry assaulted by the strength of this band’s versatility and hard-swinging groove. The disc opens with two hard driving and smashingly solid rock oriented performances. "The Court Of The Crimson King" and "Pictures Of A City" show the band to be adapt at not only creating tightly constructed formal structures that still allow for a lot of spur of the moment time changes, but also show off the strengths of each member perfectly. Wallace is rock solid with his time and kicks so many backbeats and fills one can’t help but be reminded of Dave Weckl. Narone’s playing shows he has feet solidly planted in both the jazz and rock worlds. His ability to push through the constraints of the pieces’ rock chordal structures and recreate the tunes without losing their original drive is simply amazing. With regard to his technique his fingers fleetly fly and he demonstrates each hand is equally adept at pointillistic counterpoint in much the same way Oscar Peterson first dazzled listeners’ decades ago. In support, Landers is concrete in human form, acting as the anchor to which the others have securely tied their lifelines.
On the jazz side "One Time" is a sweetly swinging light up-tempo ballad that gives Landers room to stretch out. Freed from time control responsibilities he shows his ability to push forward even while making preciously beautiful melodic statements during his solo. Former Crimson saxophonist Mel Collins joins the trio for the up-tempo swing burner "Frame By Frame." Here, as on every cut, Narone’s playing is simply fantastic. His ability to point the way, lead by example, adroitly lay back and showcase his bandmates, voice chords in ever evolving ways that expand as the piece progresses, and do all of this at the same time is simply without peer.
Perhaps its Wallace’s work, however, that is the real highlight of this recording. By allowing his fellow musicians to fully develop their musical ideas he superbly demonstrates that which he was always known best for during his life, his ability to inspire others by giving sympathetic yet strong support. This disc is not to be missed.