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Trio Grande - Urban Myth (Whirlwind Recordings)

27 November 2023

Formed by guitarist Gilad Hekselman, saxophonist/keyboardist Will Vinson, and super-drummer Antonio Sanchez in 2020, Trio Grande had its instant momentum interrupted by the joykiller that was the pandemic. Now back in action, the band’s long-awaited second album Urban Myth finds Sanchez’s casual virtuosity replaced by Nate Wood’s multi-instrumental range. (Drums and bass at the same time? OK.) Though definitely jazz in nature, the band never specifies what kind of jazz. Hekselman’s “In My Head” weaves through sax-driven postbop, while his title track slathers on the wah-wah while Wood makes a rock & roll racket. Vinson’s moody “Ministry of Love” translates hard bop to the twenty-first century, while his winsome “Olive Tree” pitches itself somewhere between the ballad styles of Jim Hall and Pat Metheny. Showing fascinating range, a skittery take on Roy Hargrove’s “Strasbourg St. Denis” makes caffeinated tension sounds like a hoot, while a cover of U.K. popster Nik Kershaw’s “Dancing Girls” becomes a tribute to eighties-style jazz funk. It might all seem a little too eclectic if not for the consistent personalities of each player and the delicious chemistry with which they work – you could hand this triad the gooiest of smooth jazz and they’d make something chewy out of it. Hopefully no further pandemics will appear to hinder Trio Grande’s regained thrust.