Tuesday, March 20, 2012


A little west coast jazz for ya, from a group bringing its cool to the east this month, along with a brand-new album.  The October Trio is from Vancouver, and have been working separately and apart since 2004.  Made of sax and clarinet player Evan Arntzen, drummer Dan Gaucher, and bassist Josh Cole, the trio specializes in wide-open songs that incorporate a lot of rhythm changes, and plenty of movement from all three.  Gaucher is not afraid to speed up in one section, then mellow out in another, as Cole and Arntzen follow suit.

For this new disc, the group has moved into more positive, "bright" sounds, with lots of soprano sax and clarinet providing colour.  There's also lots of dialogue between the players, each with their ears open to the others.  Do Your Thing, with its Arabian melody, sees Cole following Arntzen's soloing closely, and Cole playing accents to it all, rather than setting down a beat.  The title cut is bass-driven, with the sax finding the spaces around the bass line rather than on top of it.  It's rewarding playing, not difficult to follow at all, ear-pleasing and, yea, positive and bright.

The arrangements are well-structured, but leave room for free play as each song progresses through its signposts.  Like all good young jazz players, they want to experiment, and another way here is a couple of surprising covers, of The Dirty Projectors' Imagine It, and Bjork's You've Been Flirting Again.  The latter piece retains a bit of her melody, and it's not hard to imagine her voice on top of this, or at least gliding along with the horn part.  It's like a mirror image of the song, only Bjork's invisible.  Again, there's excellent interplay between all three, bass and horn winding around each other, percussion filling gaps delicately.  I'm betting this a fine group live, and ... oh, look!  You can see for yourself:

March 23d - Clinic at The University of Toronto - Toronto
March 24th - The Rex - Toronto
March 25th - The Tranzac (CD RELEASE CONCERT) - Toronto
March 28th - Casa Del Popolo - Montreal
March 29th - Largo - Quebec City
March 30th - Wilser's - Fredericton, NB
March 31st - Out Like a LION Festival (2:30pm workshop) - Halifax
March 31st - Out Like a LION Festival (8:30pm concert) - Halifax
April 3d - Raw Sugar, Ottawa

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