Scott Gwinnell composes some amazing jazz music for his popular big band the Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra, which can be heard on the 2002 album Basement Vibe and Wednesdays at Cliff Bell's, so whenever the pianist drops a new album, you expect a handful of original compositions. That's not the case for Gwinnell's first trio recording. This is a lean set at only six selections, but the familiar jazz standards have been dissected, with a few new chords added here and there and the tempos juiced at just the right time. Gwinnell doesn't waste time trying to awe us with circus exploits on his instrument. His chops are considerable, of course, but his solos are tastefully done, particularly on "Bernie's Tune" and "Bounce." He revamps these standards, and handles the ballad "Where Is Love" with the care of a quilt maker working with expensive fabrics. There's a terrific supporting cast on Trio, too, in drummer Sean Dobbins and bassist Kurt Krahnke. The bassist isn't given a lot of chances to solo on the album, barring his thoughtful turn on "Tenderly," but throughout Krahnke keeps time like a trusty grandfather clock. The Scott Gwinnell Trio works because the musicians play each composition as if they're in love with it. And they are playing standards could have been a lackluster endeavor, but modernizing them makes it fun.
Charles L. Latimer writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].