Colin Stranahan, Glenn Zaleski and Rick Rosato – Limitless (2013)

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A somewhat reserved recording, Limitless is the second outing for the trio of Colin Stranahan (drums), Glenn Zaleski (piano) and Rick Rosato (bass).

The follow-up to 2011’s Anticipation finds the group more evolved in some sense. They lean toward the traditional, playing through a host of original pieces and painting orthodox lines in a fashion that is technically and creatively sound. Theirs is a sophisticated vision of jazz.

Limitless features original compositions from each member of the crew along with a version of Thelonious Monk’s “Work.” These are, of course, sleek and polished players. Stranahan snagged third place in the 2012 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums Competition, while Rosato and Zaleski have made names for themselves working alongside the likes of Jonathan Kreisberg and Melissa Aldana. But together, the trio forges their own language.

And that’s where the compositions come in. The title track introduces the record with Zaleski’s off-kilter ivories. Stranahan joins with percussive flourish and Rosato’s accents close the loop. The trio is encircled and the groove develops inside this proverbial shell, with a balance of rhythm and melody propelling the tune.

The pianist’s “Cyclic” follows in a different, more meditative direction. Zaleski proceeds through pensive movements, while Rosato and Stranahan’s accompaniment is on the restrained side. This pattern flashes throughout Limitless and the conversation never quite reaches a fever pitch. Even as Zaleski’s ivories climb and build in resonance, the trio is always in the pocket.

That’s not to say the trio fails to get down and funky (“Work”) and it doesn’t suggest that the disc wants for hip jazz (“Forecast”), but the gracefulness of Limitless is doubtlessly locked in. Consider Stranahan’s tantalizing “Motian Sickness,” an ode to the late Paul Motian. The piece is bare by design and the trio pays it proper mind. The threesome plays patiently, with Zaleski’s full-fleshed chording breaking into meditative inflections and Stranahan’s drumming highlighted by elegant cymbal-work.

The calm, cool and collected nature of Limitless works in its favor. It is a refined record. It doesn’t beg for attention, even during the soloing. The arrangements are well-crafted, the playing is on-point and the communication relished by the players confirms there’s a lot more to come from Stranahan, Zaleski and Rosato.

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Jordan Richardson

Jordan Richardson is a Canadian freelance writer and ne'er-do-well. He also contributes to his own Canadian Cinephile and Canadian Audiophile websites. Contact Something Else! Reviews at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
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