Pianist/composer Yaniv Taubenhouse once again assembles his mighty trio, going on seven years of creating music together, of Rick Rosato on bass and Jerad Lippi on drums, to craft their third tour-de-force, Moments in Trio Volume Three – Roads (available today, April 9, 2021 on Fresh Sound/New Talent). The trio’s camaraderie and solidarity is unmistakable and saturates their work together. In the face of the long, storied history of the piano trio in jazz, Taubenhouse, Rosato and Lippi endeavor, and succeed, in finding new roads on their creative journey.
Moments in Trio Volume Three: Roads is comprised of music influenced by the many crossroads we face in life, and in music, the effect of the choices we make, and the journey we find ourselves on with each decision, both monumental and mundane. Taubenhouse elaborates that, “although we think we might know which path to follow to a specific destination, we often end up in a completely different place, and the artist's goal or vision is continually shaped by his/her experiences along the way. It is crucial for artists to stay focused on their vision, but also to remember that the magic often happens when least expected and one should remain open and receptive to those moments when they arrive. In music, the magic happens between the notes and in jazz, especially in a trio, it’s the subtext of the conversation between the three musicians that creates those special moments. If the road is the musical journey, then perhaps the song is the vehicle that transports us. Or if the song is the road, then the musical instruments might be the vehicle. It’s really up to the imagination to decide but either way, there are no journeys without roads and without journeys the roads would be empty. As we move forward on our path, the contour of our journey is revealed, and the map of our unique path unravels.”
When Taubenhouse formed this trio (about seven years ago), there was already a strong connection both musically and personally, and it was very humbling and inspiring for Taubenhouse to see how this connection has been gaining strength over the years. He explains, “as our friendship grows, it only solidifies our musical connection and brings more trust and creativity on the bandstand. When I compose new music for this trio, I have Rick and Jerad’s sounds in mind, and when we get together to play new material for the first time, I prefer not saying too much, but rather letting the guys bring their own personalities and ideas to the music. It’s very important to me that each member of the trio will be able to find their own space within the material and that a musical vision will be developed collectively (even if I am the one who wrote that particular composition or arrangement). Both Rick and Jerad are incredibly musical and great listeners and when we play together there’s always a sense that at any given moment each one of us can come up with a musical idea/direction and the other two will be there to listen and interact. This keeps the music fresh and every time we play together it’s a new journey. In addition to being amazing musicians, Rick and Jerad are truly good human beings. The human aspect is so important when playing with the same guys over a long period of time and when guys are on the same page on a personal level, it only helps elevating the music.”
More on Moments in Trio Volume Three: Roads with Yaniv Taubenhouse:
Blue Forest (7:39) – a composition that I initially wrote as a solo piano piece, However, I was so curious to hear it with the trio and I love the colors, depth and dynamics that Rick and Jerad bring to this piece when we play it together.
Rush Hour Traffic (7:30) – life in New York City can be very hectic at times, especially when there’s so many people who happen to be at the same place while trying to do the same thing. Whether it’s car traffic, standing in line at the grocery store, taking the subway, or just walking down the street, ‘Rush Hour Traffic’ is a big part of the NYC lifestyle. This intensity can be very exhausting at times, but that’s also what keeps the city so vibrant, full of energy, and beautiful (needless to say – this song was written prior to the Covid-19 outbreak in NYC). The middle section of the theme explores how a long melodic line can coexist with a bass line that is mostly consists of short melodic fragments and odd meter rhythms which reflects on the energy/beauty vs. intensity paradox of NYC.
Prayer (10:11) – the meditative aspect of a prayer is the desired atmosphere in this composition. The sixteenth note subdivisions, which are implied in both piano and drums throughout the piece, provide a contrast to the long notes of the melody and help to set a feeling of continuity, often associated with a meditative state. This composition is not just about prayer itself, but a search for the right intention behind a prayer. The bass part underneath the melody becomes more and more involved in the second time the melody is presented which symbolizes the idea of repeating a prayer or a mantra while intensifying the meaning behind it.
You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To (4:20) – written by one of my all-time favorite composers/songwriters, Cole Porter. His melodies often consist of long singable phrases which make his songs work in a variety of tempos. On this album, we chose a relatively fast tempo for this tune and I added to the arrangement some reharmonizations and a coda.
Sailing Over the Horizon (5:53) – this song is based on the contrapuntal melody played in the piano and bass. The chord changes and various time signatures throughout the theme and solo sections derive directly from the melody.
Morning Night (8:55) – the first ideas for this song came to me after a whole night of playing the piano and working on music. In fact, by the time the song was starting to come to life, it was early morning and there was already light outside. However, in my mind, this morning was still part of the night. The title was obvious right away: “Morning Night”.
Boo Boo’s Birthday (6:42) – nothing like playing a Monk tune in a trio setting. This song was written by Thelonious Monk for his daughter Barbara. The A-A-B form with its five bar B section is special. Like all Monk tunes, the uniqueness of his melodies, chromatic changes, and rhythms, give the improviser plenty of material to work with and it always adds something fresh to the set. I added to the arrangement some rhythmic bass lines and hits.
Flow (8:12) – the theme of this song is based on chord changes mostly moving in thirds. The continuous melody outlines those chord progressions while the bass provides a strong anchor, and the drums help shape the phrasing. The solo sections go to a simpler harmonic progression with a slower pulse to let the improviser have more of an open zone to create and interact.
Star Eyes (8:00) – I wrote this arrangement after playing this standard with my friend, drummer Ari Hoenig. At the time, we were just jamming with a few musicians and Ari suggested we should play ‘Star Eyes’ in 5/4. I was intrigued by how well this song sits in 5/4 and after the session I kept on exploring different rhythmic and harmonic possibilities, which led me to this arrangement.
Roads (5:46) – this is the theme song of the album, and the harmony is symbolic of the album. It’s written in D minor, however, it starts on a G minor chord and ends on an A7sus chord. Therefore, it never reaches a definite harmonic conclusion in ‘D’. If music is the road then it’s one with infinite paths. There are plenty of destinations but none of them are final; in fact, each one is a realization of where the next one might begin, and a hint of how to proceed on our next journey. And so, the story unfolds . . .