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Music Review: Trio Beyond – Saudades

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I like to think of the organ-based trio as the jazz version of rock's power trio, but doesn't more musicians equal more possibilities? Well, sometimes that does work out but with the organ trio, the keyboard's dual melodic/bass role seems to grant the other players more freedom to explore—from the Wes Montgomery Trio's bluesy vamps to Medeski, Martin and Wood's sonic excursions.

Trio Beyond seeks to play some grand music while honoring the spirit of one volcanic organ trio: Tony Williams' Lifetime. Comprised of Larry Young, John McLaughlin and Williams, Lifetime took Miles' brand of jazz-rock fusion and cranked it up a couple of notches.

Recorded live at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London in November of 2004, Saudades finds Jack DeJohnnette (drums), John Scofield (guitar), and Larry Goldings (Hammond Organ, sampler, electric piano) powering their way through material both directly and tangentially related to Tony Williams. From the crazy unison runs of Williams' "Spectrum" to a blistering "Seven Steps To Heaven" to a strutting take on Coltrane's "Big Nick" to the bristling Williams classic "Emergency," it's easy to hear the inspiration being radiated by this trio. Their love of the material lifts them—showing very recognizable flashes of fusion's past.

Not content to stay within the Lifetime songbook, Trio Beyond brings in a handful of original compositions as well. The Goldings-penned "As One" serves as a reflective introduction to the twisted blues of Larry's Young's "Allah Be Praised." "Love In Blues" lets Scofield stretch out to hurl some serious guitar skronk. The title track lets the band relax to feel the funk. Great stuff.

While the name Tony Williams might not be as familiar as a Miles Davis or a John Coltrane, his legacy is similarly far-reaching. Take a listen to Saudades and you will hear echoes of the intensity of the fusion-era—before the genre became the "F-word"…when it was just music.

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