AMN Reviews: Jeff Cosgrove / Frank Kimbrough / Martin Wind – Conversations with Owls (2015; Grizzley)

JeffCosgrove_ConversationsWithOwls.inddDrummer Jeff Cosgrove, fresh off of his recent collaboration, Alternating Current, with William Parker and Matthew Shipp, has his next offering, Conversations with Owls, lined up for release next month.  This recording features Cosgrove on drums, Frank Kimbrough on piano, and Martin Wind on bass.

At the outset, I’ll have to admit that, despite his work with Parker and Shipp, Cosgrove is not a free-jazz or avant-garde player. Instead, he finds his own voice within the tradition – two standards make up the seven tracks on Conversations with Owls. Yet, this trio, which has been playing together for several years, does not approach the mainstream either.

Case in point, Kimbrough’s piano is often used to create tension rather than a melody per se. This is evident on the first half of Forest Hunters, a disjointed improvisation featuring bowed bass as well. In a similar sense, Stacks of Stars opens with a repetitive bass theme, but then a cascading piano structure sets the tone for much of the track.  Excitable Voices provides a drum workout, with trio interplay sandwiched between.

While capable of tight group work, Cosgrove, Kimbrough, and Wind give themselves plenty of room to stretch out and solo as well.  Despite this built-in space, and the proficiency of these three individuals, perhaps the best moments of this album are when they play together in a lyrical, delicate fashion.  Look no further than the opening track, The Owls, for an illustration of these qualities.  I, for one, am looking forward for more conversations from this trio, with nocturnal birds of prey or otherwise.

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