Brian Groder Trio – R Train on the D Line (2016)

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Note: song performed above does not appear on this album.

The logical sequel to 2014’s Reflexology, Brian Groder has another go at it with his supercharged trio for R Train on the D Line (Latham Records). The trumpeter, flugelhorn master and composer continues to explore the wide-open opportunities presented in a skinny combo that once again adds only Jay Rosen (drums) and Michael Bisio (bass). Having working together for several years now pays off nicely for their follow up disc.

Throughout eight often concise tracks, Groder blurs the lines between in and out with tunes that exhibit cannily structured turmoil. As with that prior trio outing Groder charts the paths while allowing everyone — himself included — to drive down these paths in their own way, as long as they do so in concert with each other. It’s that last part that more than anything makes R Train flourish.

“Quanta” tests the mettle of the rhythm section with the tempo going on a roller-coaster ride where Groder rides the journey with unforced ease and a faultless tone. You can hear similar progressive action happening on “Asterix,” which is likewise rooted in tradition as it reaches out toward freedom. Groder leads a fairly short ballad “Isolating The Way,” portraying a somber mood with introverted lines and an assist from Bisio’s sympathetic bowed bass. Groder, Bisio and Rosen swing closely together on “Praxis,” showing a heightened level of symmetry and mutual anticipation that comes with those years of operating as a unit.

Bisio highlights “Retooled Logic” with an extended display on bowed bass, able to get inside and saw away at Groder’s esoteric harmony within the setting of a solo performance. “Dreaming In To Pull Away” is Rosen’s opportunity to shine apart from the rest, and he embarks on his showcase by drawing out unusual timbres from his cymbals, and then carefully builds the tension that springs the melody into action.

Dynamic compositions are carried out by some of the brightest, telepathic musicians in the avant jazz world. Brian Groder has a trio of which people should stand up and take notice, and R Train on the D Line is another good reason to pay attention to them.

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