Jazz is all about bold experimentation. From Miles Davis's loved and reviled On the Corner through Phil Collins's late-'70s trio Brand X to the more modern Earl Harvin Trio and Medeski, Martin & Wood, jazz players often have worked at new ways to further their sound -- sometimes receiving in return only critical pans and the anger of longtime fans.
The members of local instrumental jazz-funk combo Drop Trio obviously were aware of these potential pitfalls when they went into the studio earlier this year to record their latest album, Leap. After all, the effort was a leap of faith: It was completely improvised. The band -- keyboardist Ian Varley, drummer Nuje Blattel and bassist Patrick Flanagan -- would just sit down and play, and then worry about learning whatever songs arose.
Perhaps as a result of this hyper-spontaneity, Leap offers an amazing cross-section of styles. From the harder-edged rhythms of "Rifles" to the three-part, meandering "Robot Suit" suite, Drop Trio takes its influences (think Emerson, Lake & Palmer covering the theme from Taxi with help from George Clinton) and one-ups them with a unique formula of modern jazz. -- David A. Cobb
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