Bob James Trio: Espresso


Here’s one of those elegant, effortless-sounding trio recordings that puts accessible but fresh music at the heart of things. Bob James has come full circle, starting out on his musical career some decades back with the trio format, and returning to it now with new colleagues Kilson and Palazzolo.

The music sounds both fresh and familiar, with the trio working tightly and intelligently together across different moods and tempos. The opener “Bulgogi” comfortably demonstrates the integration and interplay between the musicians – it’s pacy and swings without anyone feeling the need to dominate the proceedings, and that pretty much sets the scene for what follows in just under an hour of fine music making. A trio that’s comfortable with itself rarely has the need to offer anything too flash, and the Bob James Trio shows that sense of restraint and inventiveness in equal measure. James’s own compositions are clever but not over-blown, and Kilson and Palazzolo maintain a constantly reliable and engaging presence.

There are a couple of covers included, such as “Ain’t Misbehavin’” but frankly when three musicians play this well together, it seems a shame not to put out a complete set of originals to keep things fresh throughout.

Bulgogi; Shadow Dance; Ain’t Misbehavin’; One Afternoon; Mister Magie; Topside; Il Boccalone; Mojito Ride; Promenade; Boss Lady; Submarine (58.32)
James (kyb); Billy Kilson (d); Michael Palazzolo (b). California 18 December 2017
Evosound 572M