Tuesday, May 31, 2016


JD Allen
The consensus among many JD Allen enthusiasts, jazz critics, and jazz bloggers is “Americana (Musing on Jazz And Blues) is the saxophonist’s best creation to date. “This record is, to me, an instant classic, right up there with “A Love Supreme,” and “Glass Bead Games,” and the like. First of all, the music is completely honest, without guile, straight from the heart. There is no agenda here, nothing slick or contrived. Just the heart of jazz, which is the blues.” that’s a piece of a quote that the founder of the Detroit Groove Society house concert series Andrew Rothman posted on Facebook a day after hearing “Americana”(Musing on Jazz and Blues). 

Allen is forty-three, a native Detroiter, and he got his start in the D with a jazz group named Legacy years before he moved to New York. The depth of Allen’s imagination coupled with his boundless prowess on the tenor sax has drawn comparison to greats such as Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. Allen hasn't achieved the celebrity those jazz icons have, but he’s well on his way. Among discriminating jazz people, Allen is already a household name. Right now, he has ten albums to his credit. Since joining Savant Records in 2012, he’s made a recording yearly.

Allen acknowledges jazz saxophonists worth their weight in gold tackles the blues at some point in their development. John Coltrane, Branford Marsalis, Booker Ervin,  and Gene Ammons did it. A few Sundays ago, I Dig Jazz talked with Allen via telephone about “Americana (Musing on Jazz And Blues,” his admiration for his longstanding trio, and other topics dear to the saxophonist’s development as a musician.

I want to start by putting you on the spot. Is "Americana (Musing on Jazz And Blues)" your favorite JD Allen record?
Well, each record that I make it's usually me advancing as a musician. At this moment, this is the better version of what I'm doing now. The next one will be better. Hopefully, the goal is to be better every time. At this moment, this is the best version of me for 2016.

You've been with your current trio drummer Rudy Royston and bassist Gregg August for a very long time. It seems as if the trio is intimately familiar with each other's psyche.
It’s basically what you said. We've gotten to the point where we're all pretty familiar with each other, so the fact that I don't have to say much in the studio. I trust them enough with whatever material I bring in. That's Important because we usually have a day of recording. The last few records, we haven't rehearsed. A lot of times, we go to the studio, and Gregg and Rudy would have just seen this material for the first time.

In that type of situation, you need people that you're familiar with and that you're comfortable with. People that can also push and challenge you. That’s why you want to keep a band together as long as possible. It helps you grow, and it helps the music go forward. That's basically all that is. If you look at history, a lot of the great bands had usually been together for a while. I'm just trying to follow along in that part of the tradition.
I'm not a project-oriented type guy. You won't get an experiment from me in terms of this is the JD Allen experiment. It's not a knock against anyone else who does that. I just try to develop a sound and improve with each recording. Rudy and Gregg, help me do that.

Did you have to test drive a lot of musicians before you found Gregg and Rudy?
Gregg was a neighbor of mine in Brooklyn. I used to see him walking his dog. I had played with Gregg first in his band. It was kind of like one day I ran into Gregg in the neighborhood, and I told him I was working on some trio stuff. He suggested Rudy to me. Back then, I hadn't met Rudy yet.

At the first rehearsal, man, I felt this was the unit. I won't say that we gelled immediately, but I was like, Yeah, this is a good situation. It was a good fit. It was like trying on shoes. Shoes that feel so good and that look so good. You’re going to wear them as long as possible.
That's a great analogy.

That was it. I would say that I think by the time we came out with this recording called "Victory!” we started to gel. We started to come together. We’re still improving. Like I said, the trio should get better with every recording. When you listen to a musician, you should hear progress.

What's the ingredient that keeps Rudy and Gregg coming back, and that keeps the music interesting?

I don't know the ingredient. When I'm the leader of a situation, I ask that musicians not get comfortable. I feel if you are not walking off the stage sweating, then you didn't play hard. I try to keep a blue collar mentality towards playing live and recording.
Rudy and Gregg, they fit the bill. They never relax, it's never a situation where we relax and are just dialing it in or phoning it in. We just play as hard as possible. Branford Marsalis said that you have to beat people over the head with jazz. You have to hit them with energy and power for them to appreciate it.

I think in my heart of hearts it's the energy that people want. That's what they want to get from music. Jazz can provide that.
I don't know if that attracts Rudy and Gregg to the situation. I haven't thought about why they still play with me. I hope that it is interesting to them. I hope that would be their answer if someone had asked them that question.

I hear Booker Ervin and Branford Marsalis in your playing. Were either big influences on you?
Branford is a super big influence on me. I think he was the first guy that I’d heard in my younger days who had that cry in his playing, maybe that's the blues. What drew me to his playing, he had sensibilities of both Mr. Rollins and Mr. Coltrane in his playing, but yet he was still himself in that.

That attracted me to him as a younger player because, before that, I was checking out saxophonists Albert Ayler and David Murray and then cats like Frank Lowe. I was a James Carter clone in Detroit. I wanted to be James Carter.
Listening to Marsalis that introduced me to Ornette Coleman and a lot of other people. You're right to say that Branford is an influence of mine.

 Anybody worth his salt should listen to Booker Ervin. He has that cry also, and he's one of the Texas tenors, who every tenor saxophone player should check out.

What was the impetus for making “Americana (Musing on Jazz And Blues)” at this stage of your career?
Well once again, it was something for growth. In a way, I guess there's a selfish element to making a record. When you make a recording, you're documenting your growth and where you're at that time. I felt developing a closer relationship to the blues would make me a better player. It was purely selfish, man. I want to be a better musician. To do that, I had to get into the blues.

Examples that made me look in that direction, of course, "Coltrane Plays the Blues". That's one of my favorite records. Branford Marsalis’s "I Heard You Twice the First Time" is another one. Years ago that kind of hip me to the fact that man, maybe at some point I have to deal with the blues. My heroes are dealing with the blues, and they can all play their asses off, so maybe that'll help me get to that.

I tried my hand at it because the guys I look up to, who I've just named, have done recordings like that. I had an opportunity to record, so I gave it a shot not knowing if people were going to like it. I was pretty afraid before I did it. I thought maybe it wouldn't be interesting enough to people; maybe it's not flashy enough. It was something that I wanted to do for development. It wasn't anything like this is a good marketing idea. It was just purely selfish. I wanted to grow.

One of the standout songs on the album is "Bigger Thomas"…
Now see, that was the one I didn't think anybody was going to dig.

Was the song inspired by your investigation of Richard Wright's novel "Native Son"?
Yeah, I love Richard Wright. 

Talk some about the song’s evolution.
It's not a blues per se, but there is a blues section to it. You have a certain maze of chords that you got to go through that some people would associate with John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” chords, which I stretched out. I'm not going to get too technical, but the last eight or sixteen bars is in C-sharp minor, which I do play the blues on top of.

Okay, where it's placed in the record starts out with the straight up slow blues, and you get into the spiritual blues, and then you get into folkloric type blues and then "Bigger Thomas" was to represent the city blues.

I'm a big Richard Wright fan, man. I love his stuff. To me, that name fit that song in the sense of it is an urban thing, but yet as sophisticated as it's trying to be the result is it gets back to the blues. 
The last time you were in Detroit, you performed at the Detroit Groove Society house concert series. The trio tore it up.

Oh, we tried, man. We tried to burn the house down, in a good way.
When you return to Detroit for your concert on June 12th at Cliff Bell's, will the set list include music from “Americana?

Yeah, we're going to play something from "Americana". I usually play something from every record. I have a book that's huge, and I never know what I'm going to play. I just get a feel for what the audience is feeling and what I'm feeling being in that room. I just go for it.
Whatever we play, we're going to play as hard as possible, man. That's my motto. If we play "Mary Had a Little Lamb", we're going to try to burn that down.

What does it mean to you when you have an opportunity to return home to perform?
To play at home is very nerve wrecking because I know I can't bullshit anybody in Detroit. I come from a town with a rich history of great saxophonists. I mean, you got Larry Smith there, you got James Carter and Vincent Bowens there.  I mean all types of people come out of Detroit.

I usually get nervous. I have to close my eyes and just block everybody out just to play. Sometimes I'm scared, man. I hope the people come out. You never know if anybody at home is going to come. The show I did last year at the Detroit Groove Society, I was surprised to see anybody there, man. It made me feel great. I was worried nobody was going to show up. I'm happy to play at home. It's a good time to see family, to see Detroit. That's always a good feeling, and a chance to recharge.

I have to go home and recharge and remember why I'm making music. You can get away and forget why in the hell you did this in the first place. When I go home, people remind me, and certain things I see in Detroit remind me this is why I’m a musician. This is what being a musician is about. You got to keep that spirit that we have in Detroit in you. That's important. You never want to get highfalutin where you get away from what it is that made you. I wish I could play in Detroit more.

We wish you could play here more often, too.
I would love to get to the kids there, man. I see this Detroit scene with younger musicians. If there was some way, I could get to them. If I could see the younger people there just once a month, man, I would do it. If there were a situation that opened up for me to do that, I would be more than happy than to come home and deal with that. People like Harold McKinney and Donald Walden helped me. If they had not been born, man, I probably would have ended up in Jackson State Penitentiary, the way I was going.

I'm an Eastside boy. I'm from Mack Avenue. If I didn't run into Ali Jackson or James Carter, Alex Hardy or Ernie Rogers at Northwestern High School, I could’ve had a different path. It was laid out for me to go a different route, but thank God I found the horn, and I was blessed to go somewhere else. I love Detroit. I love the musicians there. If I could be an influence to somebody there, I would jump on that. I try to reach out to some of the younger guys on Facebook, but I haven't had the opportunity to sit down and chat with them. Maybe I can hook something up when I get home. I'll come in a day early, and we can all get together and just play. I love it, man. I'm proud to be from the D. Every opportunity I get to say that, I say it.

The JD Allen Trio performs at Cliff Bell's Sunday June 12th 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM  $25.00. 2030 Park Ave. Detroit, MI 48226 (313) 961-3543

Monday, May 23, 2016


Vibraphonist Warren Wolf has made his best album for Mack Avenue Records yet “Convergence “. Wolfe is joined on this terrific album by bassist Christian McBride, drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, pianist Brad Mehldau, and special guest guitarist John Scofield, marking the first time Wolfe and Scofield have swung together, and their pairing is a blind date that paid off big time. Wolf has two other albums on Mack Avenue. “Convergence” is the first that shows every square inch of his genius. The album opens with “Soul Sister”. Scofield and Wolf have back-to-back solos that will satisfy your sweet tooth. You could stop playing the album after listening to that cut, confident the money paid for it was well spent. Other winners on “Convergence” are “King Of Two Fives,” Wolf’s duet with McBride, and “Cell Phone”. The cuts, however, that will have you begging for seconds is Wolf’s complete redo of Stevie Wonder’s “Knock Me Off Of My Feet, “ and “Stardust/The Minute Waltz”.

“Short Stories” is jazz trumpeter Dominick Farinacci’s major label debut. Although his reputation as a major trumpeter of his generation is well-known, “Short Stories” sound very much like his official coming out party. This is an unflawed album. It will be shameful if “Short Stories” isn’t in the running for the best jazz album of 2016. Stylistically, Farinacci is akin to greats Harry James and Wynton Marsalis. Like them,  Farinacci knows how to cut to the marrow of a song. It doesn’t matter the order in which you listen to the ten tracks on "Short Stories. You’re assured a joyous voyage. I suggest, however, when you play the album go straight to the ballad “Soldier’s Things”. From there play “Senor Blues”. Then check out how he sicced his horn on "Doha Blues” and “Sunshine Of Your Love”.   Farinacci deserves a medal for his reworking of “Black Coffee”.

Fans of alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett know his playbook top to bottom. Garrett wants listeners to have a grand time with his music, and that’s apparent on “Do Your Dance” Garrett’s fifth outing for Mack Avenue Records. The album has the energy of his live shows, particularly the conclusion of his concerts when he plays “Happy People” and the audience goes nuts. “Philly,” and “Backyard Groove” are standouts that will make you want to boogie hard. The best cut of the bunch “Waltz (3 Sisters)”will leave footprints on your soul. The album has a flaw unfortunately, the inclusions of a rapper on the title cut, and “Wheatgrass Shot (Straight To The Head).  

Monday, May 16, 2016


Randy Napoleon
Thanks for taking the time to talk to I Dig Jazz

Man, it's totally my pleasure. Thanks for having some interest in my album “Soon”. I appreciate it. It means a lot.

“Soon” is a wonderful album. How long was it in the making?  

For me, I've been thinking about doing a trio record for a long time, but you have to be an illusionist to take trio work because you need to feel and hear the harmony as if there were a piano player. It was something that for a long time, I didn't feel I could pull off. It’s something I've been thinking about as a musical challenge I didn't feel ready for.

Sometimes the only way you can deal with something is you just make yourself do it. So, all signs pointed to that for me. I had this incredible opportunity to be able to record with two of my heroes, bassist Rodney Whitaker and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, and one of the top trumpeters in jazz, Etienne Charles. 

The actual creation of the record was pretty quick and more informal than the other records I've done. There were less detailed arrangements. I didn't give a lot of instructions to the musicians. I just said we are going to play these tunes, these are the chord changes I like. Then we went for it. It was a real kind of organic, spontaneous record date.

That’s interesting because “Soon” is meticulous. It doesn't come off like it was done quickly. The album sounds as if you guys labored over it for months.

Well, thank you for that. I so appreciate that. For me, it was super easy to play with Rodney and Greg. Rodney, I've gotten to play with a lot, and he's my long-term mentor. I listened to Greg and Rodney play together a lot over the years, and I had that sound in my mind. And, I've spent so many years imagining what it would feel like to play with that kind of groove and soul. So it's very natural for me to play with them even though we hadn't played together a whole lot. We did one gig the night before the recording session, and then we did the record, and that was it.

What pushed you to the point where you said, "Okay, I'm just going to go for it"?

It was like those guys who want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. There’s something out there that you haven't done, and you're not going to feel satisfied until you do it. And also, it was something that I just really wanted to hear because most of my favorite guitarist made trio records many years ago. Wes [Montgomery] made just a couple of trio tracks one record where there's a piano, and there're some overdubbed strings. 

Joe Pass, there's a great trio record that he did with Ray Brown and Mickey Roker. And Barney Kessel did a lot of trio records, but there haven't been as much straight-ahead jazz guitar records the last 30 to 40 years. There's a handful of good ones, but I felt like it was something that needed to happen

Now that you've got this one out of your system are you planning another trio album?

I want to do more. I am going to keep on shaking things up. I want to continue playing as much as possible in the trio setting. This is an exciting summer coming up for me because I've been able to line up some trio gigs. I've spent so much time playing with so many great pianists, and they just make you sound beautiful all the time. I'm trying to explore all the chords I can get out of the guitar. There's so much sonic capability there and so many different textures you can get combining chords and melodies. That was a little bit of a rambling answer; I do want to make trio a bigger part of my life and playing duos, too. That was the other part of the record.

Your duet with trumpeter Etienne Charles on “Body and Soul” was my, favorite cut on the album. I wish you and Etienne had included a few more duets on the album.

Well, next time.

The duet felts so organic. How did you and Etienne pull that off? Or was that something you guys plotted before hitting the studio?

That one wasn’t planned. I recorded a track for Etienne's Christmas record.  I said you know as long as we've got the tape rolling, let's call a couple of tunes. And so we just played, and we went with the spirit. I think jazz is a language, and it's just an amazing feeling. I wanted a record that felt like jazz, so we just played, we just did what we always do. And you know, we left the tape running, and then we played “Body and Soul” and it came out great. I asked Etienne if he minded if I put this on my record. It was great. So that was how that went.

I had a conversation with Sonny Rollins once about playing with a piano-less band. He said to pull that off you had to be an exceptional musician because a pianist can cover up a lot of the things that are not going right on the bandstand. What are some of the challenges you face playing without a pianist?

It's half-challenge and half-opportunity. Everything is a little bit more exposed. Between the bass, drums, and guitar there’s more potential opportunity to use that space or just leave it open, which the great guitarist Bobby Broom told me one time about playing in a trio. He said you had to trust the space, which I thought was very good advice. 

There is a little bit more you know, openness when you have three instruments instead of four. There's something just beautiful about the symmetry of three. I mean if you think about the strength of a tripod. Three people can all look at each other at the same time. It's a really strong and a magical connection playing with three people.

Seems as if you have a direct line to the ghost of Wes Montgomery listening to you play "First Love, Only Love," and "So In Love".  

Wes is my number one influence, so thank you.  I mean, the funny thing about the jazz guitar tradition is everyone's connected and everyone has shades of the same thing. I love Wes Montgomery for everything. I love the way everything was melody with him. His spirit was just so joyful and outgoing and positive. I love his drive and the thrilling excitement of when he played block chords or octaves. He was just so exciting and satisfying. Every solo, every track, and every record are a little bit different.

Who were some of the other jazz guitarists that influenced you most?

 I love Kenny Burrell. I get this liquid feeling when he plays. I love his warmth and beauty and his sound. That always inspiring to me. I love Grant Green. He’s one of my top guys. The thing I love about him is there's no pretense. He goes straight to the center of the groove, and he stays there.  He was not trying to shock anyone with something that's so wild. His playing felt so good, and he has the spirit of the blues in every note he played.

Were you thinking about him when you guys played C.C. Rider?

For sure.  I was also thinking about Russell Malone. When we played that because I love the way Russell plays those slow low-down blues. He’s someone who's been a mentor and an influence for me.

Peter Bernstein is another one who is a huge influence for me of the contemporary guitarists. The interesting thing is when I trace things back those guys are interesting, but Peter has been, I don't know, how to describe it. I hear traces of the guys I loved from earlier generations with Peter and Russell.

So it's all kind of mixed up in my mind and in my ears, which I think it is how it is supposed to be because hopefully you input a lot of people and it comes out like yourself.

When you graduated from college, you played in the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra, after which you joined Freddy Coles’ band. How influential was it having those two outlets early in your career?

Touring with them taught me everything I know about professionalism musically. My professionalism comes from those people who raised me on the road. John and Jeff Clayton, and Jeff Hamilton, who run the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra, they’re role models. The Clayton Brothers are just out of sight, soulful, hyper-creative in terms of writing, arranging, leading groups everything I wanted to accomplish. 

So, I was able to start working with them when I was twenty-two. I didn't know a whole lot. Seeing the seriousness they had on and off the bandstand, I remember Jeff Hamilton straightening my tie a little bit before going on stage. It was that attention to detail and reverence for what happens on the bandstand that stays with me.

 Freddy, at this point, is a member of the family. I've been with Freddy now for nine years. We’ve been on the road a lot together 100 to 150 days a year. My relationship with him is like a family member.

The things I have learned from Freddy had to do with patience. He’s never in a hurry when he sings or when he plays the piano. He gives you the least amount of notes and gets the most groove and the most meaning out of them. He’s like that as a person, too. I ‘m an intense personality. Freddy has helped me mellow.  He’ll tell me things like no one is bullet proof, and you can't do everything all at once. Plus, I love the way he treats people.

I always really felt a part of his band. I felt actually like part of his family. I mean, we would go to Atlanta, and we would stay at his house, and cook some food, hang out. That’s the kind of relationship I try to have with my students. I try to treat them like that. I want them just to feel comfortable with me, and spend a lot of time with me because that's a big thing spending time with someone who is older than you and who has a lot of perspective on life,  music. I am rambling, but I could talk about Freddy all day.

Do you feel that old-school, upbringing for jazz musicians, is still around today? What you described is the kind of relationships that veteran musicians had with younger musicians.  I see that lacking now; it's as if young musicians on the scene now can play and they are serious about the music, but there is no apprenticeship for them.   

I know what you’re saying. The way you laid it out is just exactly the way I think about it. I agree with you that these young musicians coming out are very serious. A pet peeve of mine is sometimes the older musicians are grumpy, and they say young musicians are not serious. And they don't respect the music. I am teaching at Michigan State University now. I am working with young musicians. I can tell you that they are serious.

They love the music. They are intense. They listen to a lot of records, and they are going for it. I think the music is in very good hands.

There are fewer bands, however, working where a young musician could go on the road for many, many days out of the year, but I will say one positive thing is more seasoned musicians are involved in schools. There are more high-quality music programs now than there ever were. I can speak from my experience. 

Most of my gigs this summer are involving at least one of my students. I am not trying to be charitable. They are ready. All they need at this point is an outlet. They just need to play. So my goal now being middle-aged is trying to keep the continuity going. I am trying to create more gigs and bring some of the young talents to the forefront because they are ready.

Back in the day, a lot of the mentoring took place in a veteran jazz musician homes, or wherever they could find a facility to teach. Now the mentoring is happening in academia primarily. Do you consider that a positive?

It's a real positive thing. It gives us structure. There is pressure for all of us to produce. I take the formal structure very seriously, preparing students for juries, tests, and recitals. It’s a really good thing. Young musicians need to play. They need to get out there. They need to play for people. We need to train these young musicians in a formal kind of way that helps prepare them for the bandstand. 

There's more kind of non-profit art centers now that are starting to present jazz. The music is going to be okay. I think we've got some incredible young artists coming up. I believe that the audience will keep on coming because there is something that jazz has that nothing else can provide.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


“Holding the Stage” is the fourth installment of saxophonist Sonny Rollins’s Road Shows series, available on his label Doxy Records. Like the other Road Shows volumes, Rollins picked unreleased music from live shows in London, France, Finland, and the Czech Republic. “You’re Mine You,” and “Don’t Stop the Carnival” are the only cuts included from stateside concerts. “Holding the Stage” is delightful and the most engaging album in the series. The music spans 1979 to 2012 and charts Rollin’s evolution as a journeyman improviser. Rollins unveiled a disco inspired composition titled “Disco Monk,” written for the jazz icon pianist Thelonious Monk. Throughout the “Holding the Stage,” Rollins played a lot of horn, especially on “Solo”. On it, listeners are privy to the depths of his imagination. What sets the recording apart from the other Road Shows volumes is the engineering. “Holding the Stage” comes off as one live concert.

“Horizon Ahead” is saxophonist Benny Golson's current gift to his fan base. Sonny Rollins is the king of improvisation and Golson is the God of sophistication. Man, Golson has a delicious tone, and he knows how to court and seduce a song. Golson packed “Horizon Ahead” with some oldies such as “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” “Mood Indigo,” Lulu’s Back in Town,” and “Night Shade”.  And he hired bassist Buster Williams, drummer Carl Allen, and pianist Mike LeDonne. Each possesses a high swing acumen. Golson showed the musicians much love. Le Donne had the piano floating, and the crowd favorite is Golson's and William's duet on "Lulu's Back in Town". Golson took the expression giving the drummer some to another level. On the 9th selection, Golson offered a mini-lecture on the ins and outs of jazz improvisation. Then on the next cut “Out of the Darkness, and Into The Light,” Allen played an improvised drum solo that would turn the devil into an avid jazz fan.

Sunday, May 1, 2016


Guitarist Randy Napoleon graduated from the University of Michigan, served a dream apprenticeship in the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra, and achieved a bunch of street cred working with famed jazz vocalist and pianist Freddy Cole. As a session leader, Napoleon has four outstanding albums available, the most recent being “Soon” on the Detroit Music Factory. Napoleon is a dynamic guitarist who appears to have a personal relationship with the ghost of the great Wes Montgomery. Several times on this album Napoleon channeled that spirit. “Soon” is a balanced album that shows Napoleon can play tenderly, and raise sand with equal aplomb. It sounds as if his fingers are making love to the guitar strings on the slow jams “Be My Love,” and “More Than You Know”. The cuts likely to stay with you weeks after listening to them are “CC Rider,” “Grew’s Tune,” and “Isfahan”. You can’t go wrong with this album because there isn’t a disappointing cut on it. Napoleon didn’t pull off this terrific recording by his lonesome. His supporting cast is world-class. Rodney Whitaker is on bass, Gregory Hutchinson is on drums, and Etienne Charles plays the trumpet. The heart stopper on “Soon” is Napoleon’s duet with Charles on the classic “Body and Soul”.

Jazz drummer Ralph Peterson rarely plays with a trio. It’s coming up on thirty years since he’s recorded with a trio. His new album is titled “Triangular III,” recorded live at Firehouse 12 in New Haven, Ct. with bassist Luques Curtis and pianist Zaccai Curtis. “Triangular III” is a stellar outing for Peterson, who bears a resemblance to Art Blakey in terms of his God-given gift for building young jazz musicians from the ground up. Peterson’s various groups have been like a finishing school for talented and hungry musicians ready for their place in the real world. This trio is as formidable as Peterson's Fo'tet, sextet, and Messenger Legacy groups,  From the first cut on "Triangular III" to the last one, it's apparent Peterson designed this trio to be a platform for the Curtis brother’s considerable chops, particularly Zacccai who stole the show on damn near every selection. Peterson is an acrobatic drummer. All the outrageous feats he pulled off on drums Zaccai mirrored on the piano. If you desire proof study the album’s best moments “Inner Urge, “Backgammon,” and “The Art of War”. Peterson puts the zoom lens on Luques and Zaccai, but Peterson had some primo solos. On “Manifest Destiny,” Peterson had the drum kit yelling. The trio raised holy hell most of the recording, but showed its tender side on the ballad “Skylar”.