Oct 29th, 2019
“There From Here” is the debut album from Canada’s newest collective, a chord-less trio, TuneTown. TuneTown was formed in 2015 and pools the talents of Kelly Jefferson (saxophones), Artie Roth (bass), and Ernesto Cervini (drums). The three are among Canada’s top improvisers and contributed individually or collectively eight compositions that are played here along with covers of Duke Ellington and Cole Porter. There are, of course, precedents for this chord-less bands, including Sonny Rollins (Live at the Village Vanguard), Ornette Coleman classic quartet, Steve Lacy-Roswell Rudd’s School Days Band, and Bill Dixon-Archie Shepp Quartet. In more recent years, we have had notable saxophone trios such as Joe Lovano, J. D. Allen, and Ravi Coltrane (with Matthew Garrison and Jack DeJohnette). Such a musical setting often can be a high-wire act without a net, but the trio is exemplary. There is plenty to stimulate the listener’s attention throughout “There From Here.”
One obvious thing is how well the members of TuneTown play together. While dedicated to Thelonious Monk, Cervini’s “The Monks of Oka” is named after the monks in Quebec who make “really stinky cheese.” It is a performance that suggests a classic Ornette Coleman recording with Jefferson’s exhilarating saxophone elaborating on Cervini’s theme. Roth and Cervini provide backing in a manner of Charlie Haden and Eddie Blackwell, before they each take very crisp, focused solos. Based on the Sammy Fain composition, “Alice in Wonderland, Artie Roth’s “As She Wonders,” is dedicated to his mother. As Roth’s bass anchors the trio, Jefferson on soprano sax displays a mastery of dynamics in crafting his solo. On a standout interpretation of Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady,” Roth’s bass and Cervini’s skillful use of brushes back Jefferson’s exquisite tenor sax.
Roth’s “Split Infinity” is a contrafact of “All The Things You Are” and again displays the bassist’s virtuosity whether anchoring the trio or soloing. On Cole Porter’s “All of You,” Jefferson plays vibrantly in a manner of Sonny Rollins or Joe Lovano with Cervini displaying his ability to accompany and enhance the tenor sax solo. Jefferson’s “Kindling,” has a terrific serpentine soprano sax solo along with an excellent drum solo. “Transient Space” closes this recording on a meditative tone. It opens with Arco bass with it has an unhurried tempo. Jefferson’s soprano sax adds to the reflective quality of the performance.
While the members of TuneTown are each excellent players, playing together they are a superlative trio. Their terrific debut is highly recommended.