Fresh faces in music don’t always equate to fresh music, but it does in the case of the Casey Golden Trio. Golden (piano) leads a combo of mid-twentysomethings out of Sydney, Australia with Bill Williams on standup bass and Ed Rodrigues on drums, guys who all completed their formal music studies in 2009 and have been performing together since 2010. Golden made a record prior to that with a different rhythm section but here in early 2015, he’s set to make his first release since he’s crafted his own vocabulary with Williams and Rodrigues on board.
Outliers will go on sale digitally on January 20, 2015, an album with a bold title that suggests that the jazz they practice is outside of the norms of the form. But this isn’t an ‘outside’ jazz record in the usual sense; instead, the disruption occurs well inside the lines.
Golden, who wrote all eight of the tunes, has perhaps too keen of an ear for melody to go the avant-garde route. Instead, he focuses his energy on doing creative things with these appealing strains, and often his best tools for creatively come from Williams and Rodrigues. A little classically inclined in his approach like Neil Cowley, Casey Golden’s piano is generally lighter in touch, carefully choosing his spots to play with dramatics, such as on the endings of the first track “Flatpack Empire” and the concluding track “One of Two Places.” On the former, he introduces his composing style, a lithe, intricate melody that’s a series of connected motifs more so than your basic head/solo/head construction. On the latter, he moves so effortlessly from one pattern to another an back again, you’re not apt to notice the complexity since the flow is so liquid.
“Outliers” seems nearly a direct extension of “Flatpack,” full of microscopic twists and turns, and Casey Golden is syncing not with the bass but rather with Rodrigues’ drums throughout most of the ride. Other interesting interplay approaches include the unison of Williams’ bass lines with the left hand of Golden while the right hand plays a counter-melody (“Paralysed”) and the bass tracing Golden’s right hand on “Us Or Them?”. On the concluding segment of that song, a new A figure is introduced after the piano solo, the second part which is played at varying speeds by the whole band. Rodrigues shows uncommon telepathy in closely responding to every nuance in Golden’s solo during “Recluse.”
Outliers is uncommon sophistication from these relative newcomers out of Australia, subtly subverting jazz from within. When I first received this album, I initially misread slightly the band’s name. However, after absorbing this album, I’m more convinced that this truly is Casey’s Golden Trio.