Samo Salamon Trio: Almost Almond (2011)
It's starting to feel as if the further guitarist Salamon Salamon progresses in his career, the faster the company he keeps. On this trio date, he's working with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Tom Rainey, both with numerous appearances on record to their credit. But Salamon isn't out of his depth; this is a trio that speaks with one voice.
It would be wrong, however, to infer that this is upright music. Salamon is arguably a little indebted to both John Abercrombie and Kurt Rosenwinkel, but the names are mere pointers in view of his rhythmic conception, which in itself proves enough to keep the essentially disjointed "My Amusing Muse" both reflective and loose. Gress puts in some of his most effective work of the program with his bow, while the leader takes a back seat.
But Salamon can burn too, as he proves on the opening "Monkey Hands" where he turns in a performance which avoids all clichés as naturally as breathing. The way in which he brings his harmonic knowledge to bear makes all the difference, but this music relies upon a group effort to succeed, ensuring that the leader doesn't hog the spotlight.
"Too Emotional For This World" is underscored by a certain fragility which, in lesser hand,s might quickly become soporific. As is generally his way, Salamon's lyricism is uncontrived, but again it's the effort of all three players that ensures this music works. Gress is fulsome, though not to the point where he's the focal point, while the barely-there Rainey highlights how it's possible to be minimally compelling.
In its own quiet way, "The Small Buddhist" hints vaguely at the influence of British guitarist Phil Lee on Salamon, but again he's so much his own man that the name is no more than a point of reference. The energy level goes up slightly on this one but, given the essentially sly, allusive nature of this trio's art, that's only relatively speaking.
Besides being an evocative title "The Ladybird Is Yawning" hints tantalizingly at freer territories before moving as close inside as this trio ever gets. Even when it does, though, it's all a matter of momentum deferred and time suspended before the trio is back in another place. In lesser hands such diversity might come on like something contrived, but as in the case of everything here, the trio pulls it off with panache.
Track Listing: Monkey Hands; Lastovo; My Amusing Muse; Dutilleux; Pleiades; Too Emotional For This World; Drewish; The Small Buddhist; The Ladybird Is Yawning; Monderous; Almost Almond.
Personnel: Samo Salamon: guitar; Drew Gress: bass; Tom Rainey: drums.
Record Label: Sanje
Style: Modern Jazz