When I want to listen to a good jazz trio, I expect to hear a nice full sound, with each instrument trying to obtain this full sound and doing it with finesse. With Phil DeGreg’s Trio CD, Down the Middle, there is no shadow of a doubt that this is a wonderful example of creating great jazz with that unique talent of being in a trio. Usually in a trio, there is a definite separation of sound and no blending or working together. Again DeGreg makes this effortless.
The first song starts with Dizzy Gillespie’s "Con Alma." In this song, the trio goes through a lot of rhythmic changes and if you were not hearing the song well, you have missed these. They’re done effortlessly smooth. I had to listen to the changes again to hear the changes. They do this to all the tunes. This is what makes a very good jazz trio.
The handling of the chords along with the bass, carefully listening, along with listening and complimenting the drums. Fantastic work! I noticed in the bio of the band that Joe LaBarbera plays drums. This man played with the late great pianist Bill Evans. Tom Warrington (bass) and LaBarbera make a great team adding and moving the musical pieces with great ease. I enjoy lots of bass solos, being myself, a bass player.
Warrington delivers very well. His sound is very clear, but he has that big, fat sound like Ron Carter. Its funny that Warrington's mentor was Scott Lafaro, who also played with Bill Evans.
DeGreg’s piano chording is more than just theoretical. It has an array of smooth textures and colors. Even when he plays chords behind the soloist, called vamping, they are not regular chords. I mean to say they are not just passing chords. You can almost see him hearing the solos, then painting the picture with his notes. Wonderful! His solos had me mesmerized. Something that your ear would think he would go into but would totally change with great dexterity. It sounds like everyone compliments each other throughout this CD. I can tell they have probably played together for some time now. Sometimes these compliments come from the individual musicians being so well versed at their trade.
The favorite piece on this CD is DeGreg’s original "Urgency." This piece describes the functionality of this trio best; lots of meter changes where everyone is working so well, and sounding very tight and in the pocket. Even in their other selection of a bossa by Antonio Carlos Jobim called "Bonita," these talented musicians go straight to the chase and make it their own smooth wonderful style. The whole band had sense of breathing and attacked each tune that became surprising to the ears--not just an ordinary trio.
DeGreg, Warrington & La Barbera do a fantastic job at soloing. Most of the time in trios, soloing can sound somewhat the same style no matter what type of music is played. The DeGreg jazz trio is the best sound I have heard in a long time, for true Jazz artistry. I give this 4 out of 5 on my jazz-o-meter.