Joe Beck – Trio 7
(Whaling City Sound – 2007)
by Donald N. Eichelberger
I had somewhere else to go, something else to do, errands to run. But I thought that I’d take a quick listen to this CD and see what it was all about. Maybe I could write it off altogether. So, I was all ready find anything wrong, any excuse to leave; but music happened, and I became tethered to my speakers.
For starters, Joe Beck (Guitar), Santi Dibriano (Bass), and Thierry Arpino (Bass) play a tasty updated version of John Coltrane’s “Impressions”. They play this composition like they’re some kind of high-wire actdazzling and impressive feats, each of which is more thrilling than the last. You’d never know that they’re performing without a net because such effortless beauty couldn’t possibly be dangerous. But, there it is.
Lyricism. Lyre-playing. Strings caressed, tenderly stroked, and deftly plucked. It’s almost as if the strings are actively responding by contributing their joy at being brought to life by experienced hands. That’s ” But Beautiful”.
You think you’ve heard inventive? Check out this version of “Laura”. Lively! An arrangement that’ll keep you entertained right up to the final note. I wanted to hear again, right now!
Enter competence and versatility. “My Romance” swings. Might just swing you all the way out of your hammock. The bass solo is melodic and thoughtful; then Beck reenters and soothes whatever savage beast may lurk within the heart of anyone within earshot. Arpino on drums is like a metronome, but an inspiring and inventive one.
First of all, I’m incapable of describing the delight that awaits you when you hear “Alone Together”. It starts out as a tonal exploration of modal harmonics, then, sneaking up from the bottom of the tonal register, here come these romping, thumping, galloping bass licks. On bass, Dibriano uses both the strings and the fretboard to produce notes and slapping, snapping rhythms, much like a tabla player. His solo makes the bass croon, while Beck provides some ethereal harmonics in the background. Next, Arpino meshes complex polyrhythms into the already existing ostinato-like groove that Beck and Dibriano have laid down, as solid as concrete. Then, the three of them take off on a hot, steaming three-way improvisation that eventually cools down like lava flowing into the sea. Hot notes hiss as they cascade into the vast emptiness of cold silence. The music takes a curtain call, and then slowly evaporates.
This version of “Cry Me A River” sounds very personal. It sounds so personal, that I’d wager that it was recorded as a very particular statement to a very particular individual, probably someone who’s associated with one of the performers. “Life is like a box of chocolates. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.” F. Gump
This composition brings to mind someone short and sassy, cool and hip. Reminds me of the good-looking underage youngster who’s allowed to come into the club because the youngster digs the music. The youngster doesn’t get served a drink, but you can tell that the youngster would like one. But the youngster’s hip enough not to even ask. So, the band plays this R&B-ish number for the youngster: “A Little Blue”.
“Dancing to San Xavier” has a complex structure, arranged in several movements. It’s not really a “song”, per se. It’s more like a tone poem. Joe Beck plays the haunting theme and soars like a hang glider through his solo. In his bass solo, Dibriano’s fingers explore the entire range of his fretboard. Arpino’s drum solo is interesting in that it features cymbals, rather than drums.
Imagine a classic beauty like Lena Horne photographed by a master like Gordon Parks, and you’ll get a feeling for what Joe Beck & Company do with this classic beauty of a song, “(I Don’t Stand) A Ghost of a Chance With You”.
For the final cut, “You and the Night and the Music” provides “closure” because it has enough substance, so that you come away from it feeling satisfied. Each member of the trio is briefly featured, and each player provides an attention-grabbing performance.
Throughout this entire CD, Joe Beck uses a variety of tones, tonalities, harmonies, and electronic effects. And one of the reason that this CD can keep your attention – even thought there are only three musicians – is because Joe Beck judiciously and tastefully chooses when to use what, with unfailing appropriateness. Thierry Arpino on drums and Santi Dibriano on bass are more than mere “sidemen”; they seamlessly insinuate their own magic into each performance the CD.
You will enjoy!