Eric Lilley Trio | Follow Up Review
by Jeff Becker
Pianist and composer Eric Lilley grew up in Corona, California, in a household influenced by a fellow musician in his mother, a pianist and music teacher. Graduating from Berklee College of music in its jazz heyday in 1978, Lilley joined Atlantic recording artists The Energetics. Later, joining Herb Reed of the original Platters. These days Lilley is an in-demand player in Denver, Colorado. In 2005 Lilley formed Twin Goat Music and released Songs Without Words, a solo piano disc. Including ensemble releases Joie de Vivre and his latest aptly titled full-length album, Follow Up,which features nine original compositions featuring Mark Diamond on bass rounding out the trio Dru Heller on drums. Jose Espino steps in on percussion on two tracks, “Bud Bop” and “Leanin’,” adding a nice flavor.
A delightful Latin tune, “Bud Bop,” features a smart melody that pushes the trio in a forward motion, highlighting each player’s innate abilities. At the same time, Lilley’s left-hand keeps a strong connection rhythmically as his right-hand dances eloquently into a fierce yet melodic solo that offers all the trappings of energetic Latin music and all its passion. Diamond holds down a steady and robust feel, while Diamond accentuates the rhythm spanning between swing and Latin throughout. Special guest Espino adds a layer of authentic percussion that knits the percussive nuances of the track tightly.
“Tricycle” is a swinging number that hits right in the pocket with harmonic intricacies that bend the ear and leave a lasting appeal. Once again, Lilley is light on the keys as he whisks and spins a meaningful melody. A strictly trio tune that each player actively contributes to its success. Diamond offers excellent note choices under Lilley, adding to the track’s lilt, while Heller adds meaningful commentary with each brushstroke. Lilley has a knack for creating colors in all the right spots, whether lightly comping under Diamond during his solo or even colorizing his solo sections. Lilley knows how to be in service of the music’s highest potential.
Follow Up is a welcomed listen. Lilley is a premier composer with ideas that abound. His trio is equally delightful. The album offers an alluring odyssey of jazz styles that will satisfy any jazz aficionado.