Written on: 30/04/2010 by eugena (22 reviews written)
ARTIST: FABIAN ZONE TRIO (led by Christian Fabian)
ALBUM: KEYS IN ASCENSION
Jazz groups led by a bassist are a hit-or-miss pleasure. Is the group just a backdrop for a bunch of bass solos? How much interplay is there? Do the other players over-shadow the bassist? On this recording, Keys in Ascension, by the Fabian Zone Trio (led by bassist Christian Fabian), the balance seems just right. Fabian takes his share of solos, but does not try to dominate the disc (and when he does solo, he shows he has the stuff). He surrounds himself with excellent players. His trio partners are pianist Don Friedman (an old-timer who has played with top names for decades) and drummer Willard Dyson (who brings a lot of energy). But Fabian doesn't stop there. He also adds four horn players in various combinations on about half the tunes. Everyone holds their own.
There is great interplay between the players, like they are really listening to one another, and the improvised solos are hot stuff indeed, just exactly what you want from a modern post-bebop jazz recording.
Lots of recordings put their best tunes at the beginning and their weakest at the end. But in this case, the CD finishes up with a great Fabian original ("Black & White") and a fast-paced version of Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love." The trend seems to do most Porter pieces these days as a ballad to ostensibly wring the emotion from the classic melodies. So picking up the pace with this arrangement is refreshing. This album just goes to show you that just when you thought maybe there wasn't anything new to say in the traditional field, don't count jazz out as an idiom because it can constantly reinvent and reinvigorate itself by simply offering fresh improv soloing that has that "wow" factor.
Fabian Zone Trio CDs and downloads are available at Amazon, CDbaby, iTunes and other online sites.