Monday, June 29, 2015

Concert Review: Trio Red at the Blue Room

Only a handful of musicians on Kansas City’s vibrant jazz scene overtly reference the European sound associated with the ECM and ACT record labels. 

That’s why I jumped at the chance to hear Trio Red perform at the Blue Room last Thursday. 

Pianist Tom Cawley, drummer Tom Bancroft and a substitute bassist from Scotland whose name I couldn’t make out played two sets of a brand of jazz that’s rarely performed in Kansas City.

About ten talkers and ten listeners were present.

While the influence of the Brad Mehldau Trio was evident, Trio Red's approach reminded me more of the Esbjörn Svensson Trio.  A few interesting twists distinguished the ensemble from other piano trios.

Bandleader Bancroft’s playing occasionally evoked Don Moye of the Art Ensemble of Chicago.  Original compositions with titles like “Don't Break Your Heart (Like Rickie Lee Jones)” and “The Mole of History Takes a Bow (And Trips)” and a mashup of Joan Armatrading’s “Opportunity" and Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman” further demonstrated Trio Red’s idiosyncrasies.

Bancroft recalled that Ross Russell’s Bird Lives stoked his passion for jazz as he introduced to a rollicking version of Charlie Parker’s “Billie’s Bounce.”  The trio’s interpretation veered in unconventional directions that might have seemed heretical to many Kansas City based musicians. 

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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