With the release of "Tipping Point-Live at the Jazz Bakery," drummer Jason Smith makes his voice emphatically heard. Flanked by Gary Husband on piano and Fender Rhodes, and Dave Carpenter on acoustic bass, Smith leads his cohorts through a set of unconventional standards, executed with a deft blend of audacity and authenticity. From the moment the music commences, the conventions of the classic piano trio are shelved in favor of bold, expressionistic strokes; the musicians unravel meter and melody into a whimsical triple helix of bending, arcing, swooping lines, converging at unexpected junctures that demand both a mastery of technique and a joyous sense of adventure.
"There are lots of guys who can play lots of notes, but I'm interested in playing ideas," says Jason, describing both the music on the album and his personal credo. "It's like a taffy pull - we start with a shared thought then yank it in every direction we can. It doesn't always work, but its the risk taking and recovery that's appealing to me. When I listen to Gary and Carp - man, they sound like there about to fall off of the ledge and I'm feeding them rope - and yet we always get back to one. Bob Dillan calls it the 'razors edge', and that's exactly it."
Englishmen Gary Husband and L.A. based Dave Carpenter are witting participants in Smiths romp on the wild side. Husband, equally renowned on the drums, is justly acclaimed for his work with Jack Bruce, John McLaughlin and Allen Holdsworth. Carpenter, who began his career in the Buddy Rich big band, is at home on the sound stage of a Hollywood film scoring session as he is trekking the world in Herbie Hancocks "Gershwins World" project. But here in this trio, their sublime skills are put to the full test.
It's a difficult time in the Jazz marketplace. Musicians and audiences are struggling to define what comes next. Smith has some thoughts: "There's a lot of hooey passing for 'new' jazz standards lately. I don't need to cover the Cocteau Twins to be hip. Keith Jarrett, Kenny Wheeler, Denny Zeitlin, these are my mentors. They're timeless. And the Rhodes is back! A lot of guys like that plinky Bob James sound circa '73 CTI. That's cool, but it's like Wheatina to me. I like that big, fat, glob of Scottish oat meal that Gary dishes out. His sounds stick to your ribs. I want listeners to take away something solid from this record, something you can't ignore. You don't have to like it that's fine-just acknowledge it." [MoonJune]