Honey Ear TrioSteampunk Serenade

To my ears, Ethan Iversons group has not totally followed through on what they promised with their big label debut, These Are The Vistas (now almost ten years old). They proved that a group could play exceptional modern jazz with the stance and immediate excitement of a rock band, and have been doing that same thing, with varying quality, ever since. That idea is a beginning, not an end, and the Honey Ear Trio has picked it up and run with it.

The do play with a rock groups immediate sonic and physical appeal, and do much more. While steampunk in music is pretty hard to identify, much less describe, this band gets close to it. The music reaches back into pre-jazz New Orleans marches and extends into Minute Men territory, and frequently casts the shadow of a classic power trio, with drummer Allison Miller the guiding force, bassist Rene Hart adding some screaming leads, and Erik Lawrence the front man on saxophones. These cats can really play, the musicianship is exceptional. Although they do only one standard, a rich Over The Rainbow, the music is full of history; with touches of Monk, moments that remind me of Steve Lacys great trio disc The Window, and always a persistent and most welcome flavor of the multijazzverse bequeathed by the partnership of David Murray and Butch Morris: a powerful sound that sits at the apex of the pyramid of history, and witty, pithy tunefulness, full of surprise and satisfaction.

Theres a great storehouse of musical material that the group accesses and stitches together, so the disc is full of both variety and focus. The thirteen generous tracks sound very different from each other and all of a whole. That this is a cooperative group with such a distinctive sound is even more impressive. The musicians are all new to me, and I will express my shame in that ignorance because their playing and thinking are so damn good. 


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