The history of the piano trio goes back a long way in jazz history from the small groups of the twenties right through the fifties and on to the present day. If I were to name the outstanding ones, space would run out. Suffice to say that the piano trio – standard format – piano, bass, (sometime guitar) and drums is still with us and still able to move audiences.
This is what happened on Monday with young players Tom Berge, piano and Billy Weir, drums. Clive Morton, who has years of experience playing bass in so many different situations, was leader. It was billed as the Clive Morton Trio and it was Clive who said to me afterwards that they only played one tune that evening that he was playing for the first time. It was a Roberta Flack hit, so somewhat out of a jazz musician’s territory. But they did it and it will no doubt be included in future programmes. Clive acts as a mentor but he lets his young team make the decisions and good ones they are.
Standing at the back as people go home, you can always tell whether the evening has been a musical success and this one, judging by the parting comments was one of the good ones. I’ve heard people commenting that Tom’s piano playing nods towards that of Dave Newton and that is more than complimentary. Overall, they seemed to love it all.
The music for the evening consisted of standard fare that we all know and have heard before. The beauty of jazz is that unless something is rehearsed and pre-planned to the enth degree, it will always sound a little different every time it’s played. There’s always that little flourish, that quotation from another song which wasn’t there the last time they played it, but that’s jazz and it’s what we enjoy about it.
Among some of the music played, fast and slow and there was even a Charles Mingus composition. That’s brave for a trio. Whatever your opinion of piano trios, you must admit that the musicianship has to be spot on. There is no room to hide in a section of saxophones. What each musician plays will be heard and if it’s wrong the audience will hear it!
I think it’s safe to say that Tom, Billy and Clive will return in the future.