Vibrantly invigorating, if finely nuanced, jazz trip from a freshly formed trio of intrepid spirits.
Although these three players seem to have pedigrees so dissimilar there’s hardly any common ground for them do dance on, it’s live improv – a territory where pop-rock aficionado Dave Easley, a classical composer Dave Anderson and jazz connoisseur Tom Chute can meet for a jive to freely go off on a tangent. So while using the ACE acronym as trio’s moniker may require some nerve, the American musicians’ music live up to such effrontery, as the six pieces on offer gain magnificent momentum from the platter’s almost tentative start to the epic finale which takes the listener on a magic ride through an understated variety of pastel-hued moods. All-around complementary and sympathetic, their delivery is infectious enough to captivate those who won’t otherwise care for the genre the little ensemble carry the torch of, with the tuneful light to lead the way.
As much is clear right away, once opener “Camellia Dreams” begins to strut a soft groove which eerie harmonies enshroud, Easley’s spectral guitar and Anderson’s creepy bass meandering between Chute’s brushed beats only to expose this fusion to a moonshine melody drenched in a hazy echo and enjoy a slow crawl of solo passages, before blues rear their sad heads – and leave the space for the spanked up “Five Gallon Hat” that finds four strings chase six sliding ones away over the most elegant of rhythms toward the warm balladry of “Slender Forest” that sees Dave E. and Kass Krebs’s vocals interwoven as arms in a hug. In this context, the retrofuturistically overdriven “Pop Medley From Outer Space” – also extemporized, of course, the presence of parping riffs, country licks and cello-like waves notwithstanding – comes across as a series of side-splitting surprises, but “Ozzy” defies metal-minded expectations by deftly offering a funereal, if somewhat heavy and orchestral, drift.
It’s at this point that the titular expanse floats into focus on percussive ripples and angular picking to turn a delicate gallop into blistering exchange of note-flurries – each magnified by sonic microscope the trio keep always nearby in case someone will be willing to concentrate on different details: a cymbal crash here, a rumble there, a tasty twang, chuggy raga or cinematic suspense elsewhere, all streaming into a triumphantly crystalline moment of truth. Hopefully, this platter is not a one-off effort, and further adventures await.