Pianist Barry Green has been haunting my September. After popping up on Alan Barnes’ quartet recording One For Moll as a sideman, his trio with two A-list American partners, saxophonist Chris Cheek and drummer Gerald Cleaver (yes, no bass), provided the gig of the month and a hot CD recommendation. Barry recorded an album last year at the legendary System Two studios in New York with the two Americans and they were touring, promoting the album in September. They touched down at the Hen and Chicken in the middle of the month and tore into a varied set, skipping through a sizzling take on Ornette Coleman’s ‘Happy House‘ after moody abstraction on Paul Motian’s ‘Owl of Cranston’ and the lyrical ebb and flow of Green’s own ‘Stubblerash’. After a grooving workout on the John Martyn tune ‘May You Never’, they thoroughly deconstructed ‘Off Minor’ before completing the evening with a heart stopping reading of ‘When I Grow to Old Dream’. The fleet footed switches and lightening interaction of the trio are all captured on the CD as well as the quirky swerves in repertoire. Green can sound like several different pianists, now impressionistic colour and pensive exploration, now driving Ornette-ish free bop, followed by a folky Jarretish tinge to his playing on the album’s closer Getting To Be A Habit With Me and unsentimental lyricism and and richness of harmony on many of his compositions. The live set and the album reveal a distinctive musical personality and Gerald Cleaver and Chris Cheek are peer-less collaborators. Cleaver enlivens, goads and colours the music with every twitch, flourish and pause. Chris Cheek’s sound weaves through the mix sometimes sweetly melodic at others spooling out long spiky lines. It’s an intoxicating brew. You can get the album here.
September’s live moment to savour and a CD recommendation: Barry Green’s ‘Great News’ Trio