Pat Bianchi, Three Review


Pat Bianchi, Three Review

by Jeff Becker

Pat-Bianchi-jazz-sensibilities-cdPat Bianchi’s album Three presents a unique fusion of traditional jazz influences with a fresh, innovative approach, a departure from the typical guitar-based setups to prominently featuring a saxophone. Bianchi, renowned for his skills on the Hammond B3 organ and saxophonist Troy Roberts and drummer Colin Stranahan, venture into new harmonic territories in a studio album that remarkably captures the essence of live jazz.

Pat Bianchi, a Grammy-nominated virtuoso, has long been a significant figure in jazz, particularly noted for his deep musicality and innovative approach to the jazz organ tradition. With Three, he continues to push the boundaries of what a jazz organ trio can accomplish, further solidifying his legacy in the jazz community. Inspired by the chordless trio format of Sonny Rollins’ iconic A Night at the Village Vanguard, Bianchi sought to harness the freedom such a setup could offer. The absence of a guitar in Three not only allows for an expanded harmonic freedom but also provides a fresh context where the saxophone and organ interplay can thrive, challenging traditional trio formats and blending seamlessly with modern jazz nuances.

Tracks such as “When Sunny Gets Blue” and “Dance Cadaverous” illustrate the trio’s capability to reinterpret jazz standards with a modern twist. Roberts’ saxophone on “When Sunny Gets Blue” intertwines traditional and contemporary jazz elements, delivering a rooted and innovative performance. “Cheek To Cheek,” captured live, exemplifies the trio’s dynamic interplay and the spontaneous energy of their performances, particularly highlighting the harmonic conversations between Roberts and Bianchi.

Three embodies a deep appreciation for the jazz tradition while pushing into contemporary realms. This blend respects the past yet ventures confidently into new artistic expressions, reflecting a tasteful integration of diverse musical eras and styles. From the introspective depths of “Stardust” to the lively bounce of “Cheek To Cheek,” the album navigates through a spectrum of emotions, showcasing a thoughtful progression that mirrors a journey through jazz history, culminating in a vibrant live performance feel.

The album benefits immensely from Bianchi’s command of the Hammond B3, Roberts’ versatile saxophone play, and Stranahan’s dynamic drumming. These elements combine to create a rich, textural soundscape that is both vintage and forward-looking. Chris Sulit’s production maintains a crisp clarity that honors the live jazz essence, capturing every nuance of the trio’s robust interplay.

Three is a collection of performances and fresh arrangements that reaffirms Pat Bianchi’s status as a leading jazz organist. For fans of jazz and those intrigued by the evolution of the organ trio format, Three is an essential listen. It offers a rich tapestry of sounds and styles that promise high replay value and a deep, engaging listening experience.

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