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Tipping Point (Live at The Jazz Bakery, Los Angeles)

Artist: Jason Smith

Date of Release: 17/07/2007

Catalogue no: MJR011

Label: MoonJune Records

Price: £9

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Track Listing

No

 

Title

Duration

1

 

Carole's Garden

9.24

2

listen

The Way You Look Tonight

8.17

3

listen

Follow Your Heart

8.02

4

listen

Starbright

6.38

5

 

Heyoke

13.22

6

listen

Three Lies

14.30

7

 

Up, Up and Way

6.17

 

 

 

 

JASON SMITH drums, arrangements
GARY HUSBAND acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano
DAVE CARPENTER contrabass

DRUMMER JASON SMITH REINVENTS THE JAZZ PIANO TRIO. A live set featuring bassist Dave Carpenter (Allan Holdsworth, Peter Erskine) and Gary Husband (Allan Holdsworth, John McLaughlin), who leaves the kit to Smith and focuses exclusively on keyboards, Tipping Point bristles with rock and fusion energy, yet remains unequivocally a jazz record. Featuring original material alongside tunes by Kenny Wheeler and John McLaughlin with a couple of standards thrown in for good measure, Smith’s trio “avoids any kind of stylistic purity, while still feeling completely natural and unforced.” (AllAboutJazz.com).
Harmonically rich and metrically complex yet equally capable of understatement and nuanced elegance, this trio skews tradition while remaining fully conversant in it. Honest and unassuming, Tipping Point represents a refreshingly contemporary piano trio that substitutes honesty and commitment for shtick and artifice.

 

Reviews

 

02/02/2008 CHRIS PARKER - VORTEX JAZZ, UK

Recorded live at the Jazz Bakery, Los Angeles, in May 2006, this album provides a great example of what happens when you're willing to let three like-minded musicians travel where the music takes them in the moment. Drummer-leader Jason Smith puts it perfectly: 'It's like a taffy pull we start with a shared thought then yank it in every direction we can … it's the risk-taking and recovery that's appealing to me. When I listen to Gary and Carp man, they sound like they're about to fall off the ledge and I'm feeding them rope ­ and yet we always get back to one.' The trio's material (Smith again: 'I don't need to cover the Cocteau Twins to be hip') ranges from Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields's 'The Way You Look Tonight' and Jimmy Webb's 'Up Up and Away' to Keith Jarrett's 'Star Bright' and John McLaughlin's 'Follow Your Heart', but to a large extent it's the trio's manner rather than their matter that's important, because whatever they're playing, Gary Husband (on both acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes), bassist Dave Carpenter and the tumbling, emphatic but surprisingly subtle drummer Jason Smith simply revel in the opportunity to stretch out, strike sparks off each other, explore possibilities If you were forced to categorise the music that results, you'd have to source it to fusion (in its widest sense), but the freedom and vibrant energy the trio achieve at their frequent peaks put this exhilarating performance essentially beyond category. Recommended – another great release from an enterprising label.

 

11/11/2007 SIGNAL TO NOISE MAGAZINE, USA

“Kind of CD Chick Corea or Herbie Hancock should be putting out rather than indulging in half-baked crossovers of Scientology epics.”

 

11/11/2007 VINCENZO GIORGIO - MUSICA JAZZ MAGAZINE< ITALY

"High class marrying virtuoso playing.”

 

10/10/2007 DUNCAN HEINING - JAZZWISE MAGAZINE< UK

"A most satisfying live release from a trio that, like the best of all small groups, punches way above its weight.”

 

09/10/2007 STUART HAMILTON - ZEITGEIST, SCOTLAND

A more traditional jazz release from the usual more fusion oriented MoonJune, but an excellent one, nonetheless. Jason Smith's trio with Gary Husband and Dave Carpenter sees drummer Smith joined by pianist Husband who has played on many of Allan Holdsworth's albums, and bassist Carpenter who has also worked with Holdsworth. This live set sees them turning their attention to a wide range of covers from Jerome Kern to John McLaughlin and even the Nimble bread advert, 'Up, Up And Away', from the pen of Jimmy Webb, albeit in virtually unrecognisable form. Gary Husband contributes the sole original number, 'Three Lies'. Recorded live at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, it's a sparkling set which takes music that shouldn't be able to sit happily together, and reinvents it into a delightful whole. The trio are perfectly in synch with each other, and you can almost feel the electricity passing between them when they peak. Something that happens a lot here, with the Keith Jarrett tune 'Star Bright' and the sublime and delicate 'Heyoke' from Kenny Wheeler the highlights round my way. A fabulous album from three fabulous musicians. What more do you want?

 

21/09/2007 SCOTT YANOW - ALL MUSIC GUIDE

The team of drummer Jason Smith, keyboardist Gary Husband and bassist Dave Carpenter works very well together on this explorative and frequently telepathic collaboration. Recorded live at Los Angeles' legendary Jazz Bakery, the trio performs works by Denny Zeitlin, John McLaughlin, Keith Jarrett, Kenny Wheeler, Jerome Kern and Jimmy Webb in addition to a lengthy workout on Husband's "Three Lies." While there are some meandering moments since the musicians are really stretching out and taking chances, the performances are all quite successful, particularly an up-tempo and somewhat jubilant version of Zeitlin's "Carole's Garden." Husband is a bit more distinctive on piano than on electric piano, but he bends the primitive sounding electronics to suit his purposes. Carpenter's solos are always thought-provoking and Smith never stops pushing the other musicians. "Up Up and Away" and "The Way You Look Tonight" are given new life. Recommended.

 

09/09/2007 DMITRI EPSTEIN - LET IT ROCK, ISRAEL

A trio of piano, double-bass and drums is not a unique format to explore the jazz idiom, but as they say, it's a singer not a song that matters, and here all three instruments are all but singing. Led by drummer Jason Smith whose dynamics set the mood, the soloist at this gig, recorded at LA's "Jazz Bakery", in May 2006, is another sticks master, Gary Husband, as adept with the ivories as with the skins, while the bottom line comes from Dave Carpenter. With a fusion in their DNA, it's most surprising the threesome choose the pure form and enjoy the quiet ripples of Keith Jarret's "Star Bright" and relaxed yet urgent shuffle of John McLaughlin's "Follow Your Heart" where the bass lets rip and Fender Rhodes goes groovy, Hancock-way. The percussive feast unravels in Husband's own "Three Lies", the wildest thing on offer, which is understandable with no need to be reverential and a possbility to go, though sparsely, all over the place, with Jimmy Webb's "Up Up And Away" as a calm resolution. If a storming might can be serene, there's a testament to this.

 

10/07/2007 GLEN ASTARITA - JAZZ REVIEWS.COM

As a drummer Jason Smith hearkens back to the days of Buddy Rich via his darting snare shots and poetically-inclined polyrhythmic fills – all performed on a small kit. With this thoroughly-happening trio jaunt, recorded at Los Angeles’ famed Jazz Bakery; Smith, British keyboardist Gary Husband and first call West Coast session ace, bassist Dave Carpenter generate an impacting musical persona. And for the uninformed, Husband is a respected progressive-rock/jazz-fusion drummer due to his supporting stints with guitar god, Allan Holdsworth and many others too numerous in scope to cite here. Yet Husband effectively toggles between acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes amid this potpourri of standards and modern jazz classics. It’s a democratic engagement, where the respective artists enjoy abundant soloing space. On Jerome Kern’s “Way You Look Tonight,” Smith lays out a peppery, up-tempo swing vamp to underscore Husband’s animated keyboard phrasings as Smith raises the pitch towards the coda with a furious sense of urgency! And one of my favorite tracks pertains to the trio’s spin on guitar-great John McLaughlin’s 1970 composition titled “Follow Your Heart.” Marked by a dreamy and understated primary theme, Husband’s airy chord voicings are counterbalanced by a wah-wah drenched Fender Rhodes motif during the bridge. However, the trio surfaces as a coherent and tightly-integrated musical machine, which is starkly evidenced on the keyboardist’s multi-part comp “Three Lies.” Here, the band maneuvers through punchy choruses amid somber frameworks while upping the ante with snappy rock beats and interweaving story-lines. Husband even quotes Tranes’ “Giant Steps,” to complement a string of daintily executed passages and stinging right-hand lead lines. Smith takes this train into express mode on numerous occasions. Consequently, it’s the trio’s willingness to expand, contract and refresh themes into an aggregation of sinuously constructed paths that yields additional benefits. No doubt, this outing should (in theory) garner quite a bit of interest throughout progressive-jazz circles.

 

27/06/2007 JOHN KELMAN - ALL ABOUT JAZZ

Jason Smith's Think Like This (Alternity, 2005) was an unexpected debut from a drummer with greater credibility as a pop and rock session player. Teamed with keyboardist Gary Husband and bassist Dave Carpenter, that disc demonstrated that there can often be a considerable gap between how one makes a living and the direction chosen when given the artistic freedom to do so.Tipping Point captures the same trio in a 2006 performance at Los Angeles' The Jazz Bakery. With Husband living in the UK, this trio may not get together on a regular basis, but it's clear that when they do there's an immediate chemistry. It suggests a trio who, comfortable with a diversity of styles in and out of the jazz sphere, has the imagination to take even the most familiar material and massage it into new forms. The group reprises two tunes from Think Like This, but stretches them out even further. Husband innovatively reharmonizes “The Way You Look Tonight” so significantly that, with the exception of a couple of signposts, the standard is nearly unrecognizable. The keyboardist's own, more complex 'Three Lies' provides everyone the opportunity to explore a spectrum that includes abstract impressionism, unassailable swing and near-fusion level funk. Jimmy Webb's normally buoyant 'Up Up and Away' is reinvented as a tender ballad. Smith continues to mine the repertoires of two influential artists. The inherent melodism of Keith Jarrett's 'Star Bright' is retained, but by morphing a solo piano improvisation into a trio piece there’s the opportunity for democratic dialogue. Kenny Wheeler's 'Heyoke' never loses site of its composer's melancholy lyricism, but takes surprising rhythmic liberties, as the rhythm section seems to ebb and flow beneath Husband's lengthy solo, where the interaction is at such a subconscious level that it’s more often felt than heard. Husband, perhaps best-known as the drummer for artists including Allan Holdsworth and Level 42, isn't the only percussionist with strong piano skills, but by evolving a parallel and equally important career as a keyboardist, he's certainly a rarity. Appearing in both capacities on guitar icon John McLaughlin's Industrial Zen (Verve, 2006) and gearing up for the guitarist's first fusion tour of North America in over twenty years, it should come as no surprise that this trio tackles McLaughlin's altered blues, 'Follow Your Heart'. But far from the free-bop elasticity of the original version on McLaughlin's Extrapolation (Polydor, 1969), Smith's funky backbeat and Carpenter's visceral anchor supporting Husband's Rhodes solo prove it's possible to groove organically in 11/8. Like Think Like This, Tipping Point stretches boundaries rather than breaking them. Nor does Smith's trio doesn't have a singular, pigeon-holing concept like The Bad Plus. Instead, it's about honesty, open-mindedness, strong material and broad-scoped playing that stands on its own without resorting to devices that ultimately time-stamp a group. With an approach that's timeless without sacrificing modernity, one can only hope that Smith's trio is here to stay.

 

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