THE ART OF THE TRIO, a retrospective of the importance of the Trio in Contemporary Jazz with a selection of the latest and best releases

Jazz lovers know very well the importance of Trio in moder music and also how many good albums are released today with this particular setting of musicians. As a matter of fact, the Jazz Trio seems to be one of the preferred format for a large number of renowned and established musicians, presumably for the possibility they have to be at the same time the leader of the ensemble but also leaving to the other musicians the chances to unleash all their creativity and, as such, to optimize the contribution of each player to the final musical result.

To celebrate this special type of Jazz I recently started assembling a playlist on Spotiy with the best ensembles and the best songs that are released for Trios. This is going to be a “living” point of collection for all the new Jazz that will be published from now on, so my recommendation is to follow the playlist and check it regularly for new exciting updates. On my side, I obviously commit myself to include only those works that truly deserve your attention.

Below I’ve also put a few excerpts from two interesting articles that provide a more formal analysis of the importance and the advantages of Jazz Trios in modern music. Visit these pages for getting adequate background and explanations.

 


 

The Trio Advantage

(from University of Michigan‘s blog)

The trio strikes a delicate balance. The larger the band, the more limited the possibilities for each musician. Each instrument needs to find its place in the sonic palette and rhythmic scheme. The smaller the band the more limited the varieties of timbre. Each instrument needs to provide enough variety of sounds and phrases to keep the listeners interest.

By reducing the number of musicians, a trio opens more space in the sonic texture for each musician to explore. In larger ensembles each musician can be forced into pre-determined roles by the very nature that each instrument must compete for space in the sound spectrum. Without careful orchestration of parts the group easily descends into a cacophony of chaos (though at times chaos may be a desired effect).


 

The Trio Format

(Ned Judy)

Jazz piano trio has become a popular ensemble format in the modern era. This setting includes bass and drums, however the piano is usually featured. The pianist plays most of the principal themes, and improvises solos in nearly every piece. While this ensemble format is now common, trios featuring piano were rare in the early years of jazz, and often included a wind instrument for which the pianist provided accompaniment. The development of the jazz piano trio occurred over a period of decades, across a span of several jazz styles, and with significant changes in instrumentation. Ultimately, the trio has become a powerful vehicle for expression for the jazz pianist, providing him with the support of a rhythm section, while allowing him great freedom. Most modern jazz pianists have led trios, and some pianists from earlier periods, who established their careers before the widespread use of this format, have led trios in more recent times.


 

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