Trio renews jazz’s appeal

Aaron Stein-Chester

These days, jazz is often one of a few things. It’s either hyper-pretentious, “free” improvisation or banal, doctor’s office tripe, and the least offensive groups simply rehash the classics. The tunes are so good that they can get a way with it and not offend anyone.

The Hoenig-Pilc Project’s performance at Saddleback Oct. 31 was none of these. It was classic, original, and enlivening.

In jazz, there’s nothing simpler and more elemental than three instruments : piano, bass, and drums. Drummer Ari Hoenig, pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, and bassist Dan Lutz proved this once again, but in an entirely new way.

The trio ventured off into rhythmically active and harmoncially contemporary improvisation, all the while keeping the airtight flow and continuity of a classic jazz combo.

In their talk, the trio emphasized constant listening, relentless technical practice, and regular rehearsal with other musicians to tap into this spontaneous and irrational aspect of jazz performance.

The jazz musician’s ultimate goal, however, is to have these elements become so much a part of themselves that technique becomes ingrained in their muscles and bones.

In their original compositions and retakes of classics, and showed an audience made up of future musicians that there’s plenty of undiscovered territory in jazz. Sorry, Miles. Jazz isn’t dead.

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