In 2013, three ne-plus-ultra world class musicians, Miles Black (piano), Bill Coon (guitar) and Jodi Proznick (bass) formed Triology, a trio that combines their superb jazz performing abilities with their arranging and compositional talents.
In this, Triology’s first CD, 6 of the 10 tunes and all of the arrangements were written by the band members. Instead of the often-used ‘jam session approach’, these unique sounding arrangements create a ‘never-a-dull-moment’ atmosphere for the listener and the band evokes memories of the classic piano-guitar-bass groups such as the Nat Cole and Oscar Peterson trios.
Jodi Proznick is the rhythmic driver, the pulse of the band. She gets a big sound out of the acoustic bass in the tradition of Paul Chambers and Ray Brown and most importantly, she knows how to put the notes in the right place so that it makes the band sound good. As you can hear, she’s also an exciting and inventive soloist and composer. Jodi Swings!
The first thing I think of when I listen to Bill Coon is the beautiful sound he gets from his guitar. It’s a big warm sound and yet it has plenty of bite and punch when it’s needed. As you can hear from his playing here, his soloing is exhilarating and swinging. Bill’s approach is influenced by players like Jim Hall and Wes Montgomery. He has a magnificent command of the guitar as you can hear in his comping and beautiful chord voicings.
Miles Black is an amazing piano player. One can rave about his all-encompassing piano technique etc. and that would take a while, but the most important thing for me is his sense of swing. When he solos, it’s composition on-the-fly. He starts with a low-volume motif which he expertly develops over ensuing choruses, building the intensity to a grand musical climax. When he’s comping behind you, whether you’re an instrumentalist or a singer, you feel that he’s supplying you with the perfect accompaniment for what you’re trying to do.
Ray Time: This tune is a tribute by Miles to the great bass player, Ray Brown, whose playing is much loved by the band.
Morocco: The bass and guitar play a repeated musical phrase (or ostinato) over which Miles plays his North African-influenced melody. In the bridge, they change the mood by switching into a swing groove.
Broadway and Alma: The title of this tune by Bill refers to the address of the Alma St. Café which presented Jazz for a number of years in Vancouver. It also refers to the old standard Broadway on which the harmonic progression is slightly based.
Sweet Georgia Brown: This begins with a well-arranged and tricky intro which they execute with great tightness. This is typical of the preparation and thoughtfulness they put into their performances. Miles plays a couple of brilliant solo choruses followed by two equally great choruses from Bill. Then shout choruses and bass solos. Great!
If I Love Again: Jody states the melody of this old standard in a free rubato fashion after which, in a medium tempo, the guitar and piano play the tune in a ‘locked hands’ style reminiscent of the Nat Cole or George Shearing sound.
Ballad of the True North: This composition by Miles shows off the versatility of this trio as they take the listener on a musical trip using an orchestral-like arrangement of differing instrumental moods and harmonies.
Pennies from Heaven: This version of the well-known standard begins with a beautiful chord-solo rendition by Bill. This is followed by some great soloing by all in a medium tempo.
Adanac: The harmonic progression for this medium-up tempo tune by Jodi pays homage to Sonny Rollins’ Airegin (the reverse spelling of Nigeria). In this arrangement, the bass and piano state the melody with sparse comping from the guitar. But I wonder why Jodi called it Adanac?
L’Espace: In this reflective ballad, as the title of Jodi’s tune suggests, the mood is soft and gentle with lots of breathing space.
I Got Rhythm: In this treatment of Gershwin’s often-played tune the melody is stated by the piano with fills from the guitar all over a ‘pedal on the fifth’ by the bass. This is followed by great solos from all.
I’ve been fortunate to have played quite a bit of music with Miles, Bill and Jodi over the years and all three of them are wonderful musicians and friends. Sit back and enjoy Triology!
Oliver Gannon, Vancouver, 2014