Three of a Kind
This album simmers with the conversational interplay of three friends who have been improvising together for nearly two generations. The sound is immediately familiar and inviting, yet filled with constant surprise. On Irwin's compositions, his rolling, sparkling solos are steadied by Confurius' heartbeat bass and spiked by Mulvaney's cymbal and snare accents. ' 'Minor Steps' tears out of the gate and is chock full of cheetah chases between piano and bass, before dropping into some musical ping-pong between all three musicians. Even the ballads are heavy on the 'Hope,' as in this song, the opening pensive mood, full of atmospheric textures, seamlessly shifts into a crisp, propulsive soundtrack for moving down the . There is never the sense that this is a pianist with a back-up rhythm section. Instead, there's constant complexity and waves of sound, and the listener is often brought up short by the trio's masterful control of dynamic shifts. Still, the trio can easily settle into the mellow whorl of Mulvaney's 'Calm,' where an extended bass solo provides that song's foremost quality in it's measured and steady probing. And suddenly, at two surprising points, Don Mulvaney's voice floats in when you least expect it, importing some late-night romantic yearning. Then, seamlessly, we return to bright, shimmering original trio music, crisply recorded, for chilling.