The Odd Trio – Birth Of The Minotaur (2012)

photo: Jeff Wiley

Out of the same Athens, GA college town that gave the world R.E.M. The B-52’s and The Drive-By Truckers, comes The Odd Trio. But The Odd Trio isn’t college rock or Southern rock; this is a jazz fusion band, and one with no set approach on how to play it: you’re more likely to find similarities between them and the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey than you are with any of the name acts out of Athens. Manned by Brian Smith (guitar), Marc Gilley (saxes) and Todd Mueller (drums), the three draw from their backgrounds in jazz, classical, rock, funk, blues and no telling what else that might have been absorbed from being a part of Athens’ rich music scene. The Odd Trio doesn’t make odd music just for the sake of being odd, there’s a purpose — or rather, method — to their madness.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Tulsa, OK's Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey creates their magnum opus with the magnificent Race Riot Suite.]

The first four cuts are structured together like a symphony (allegro, sang, dance, finale). “Raucous Bacchus” gets things going with a joyful second-line beat. Smith shows off wide range, his guitar going from ambient to screaming and back again on “Persephone’s Pomegranate.” “Pasiphae’s Wild Ride” (Soundcloud below) is a brash surf rock excursion and “Birth Of The Minotaur” tosses in rock metal overtones, dancing Eastern European folk and even a little mathematical fusion to create a mini-symphony of its own.

Beyond that informal suite, the band continues to experiment with styles, sometimes emphasizing song structure, other times sonic imagery. “Perseus” takes its cue from sound waves produced by a distant black hole of the same name, keying the song on Bb, and employing time signatures of 5/8, 7/8 and 8/8. A hypnotic repeating pattern of notes to go with the unusual metric pattern, which combined, makes a sensible melody. Smith makes use of effects to create an expansive sounding reverb-drenched atmosphere for “Deckard’s Dream.” “Sunday Morning Improvisation” and “Sleeping Ariadne” are further explorations into extended forms and dreamy musical terrain. For another change of pace, the wild and woolly “Whisky” veers from funk to metal with middle eastern overtones.

The offbeat, unconventional and unpredictable methods of The Odd Trio make Birth Of The Minotaur‘s oddities endearing.

Birth Of The Minotaur will become available for sale July 31. Visit The Odd Trio’s Facebook page for more info.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is a CPA and mid-level data analyst for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.