It’s sad to be engaging this music after Coryell’s passing, but nice to check in with his playing regardless of circumstance. The bustling, fulsome groove on “The One or the Nine” makes for a rousing start. There’s strongly motivic playing at the heart of things, and the leader Taylor sounds fantastic in the thick of it all. Coryell’s playing suggests he’s fallen back in love with Grant Green, with a much more pared down phraseology than many associate with him. “Loft Funk” sounds especially dialed in, and it’s certainly more than a pedestrian vamp, since there are nice chord changes and rhythmic shifts. Obviously, the key to generating excitement in such contexts is band chemistry, which is here in abundance with this trio. Indeed, as much fun as it is to focus on Coryell, you can’t help but be impressed by the tasty press rolls from Clark and the nicely rotund shapes from Taylor. “Jumbo Liar” is a kind of Monk-like lope, another tune where Taylor and Coryell dig into unisons in ways that don’t detract from the rhythmic needs of a trio. The back half of the disc finds the trio stretching out a bit more in thematic terms. They range from the soft, acoustic ballad “Song for Dennis” to a laid-back tour of Bud Powell’s “John’s Abbey” to Taylor’s fine “Hittin’ and Missin’,” which recalls some of Pat Metheny’s more Ornette-influenced pieces. On the latter two pieces especially, Coryell’s harmonic range and imagination shine through. And he’s in positively blistering form on acoustic on “ARC,” a vivid reminder of his power and technique. It’s fitting, too, that Coryell’s rousing “The Dragon Gate” closes out this fine session. Jason Bivins
Steve Pollack Trio
Tom Lawton on Keys!