Monday, May 6, 2013

Looking Behind the Name: Moz Trio (Who?)

I was noodling thorugh various musicians the other day looking to see what they were up to and when I might see another CD from them. One I very much would like to hear from again soon is Zoe Rahman, the Britsh/Bengali pianist from the U. K., winner of the MOBO Jazz Award in 2012, and the subject of my post of January 29, 2012 in which I discussed her background and discography, concluding with her last CD "Kindred Spirits" ( Manushi Records 2012). That disc also appeared on my best of the year list for 2012 later.

Anyway, in looking at her website I stumbled upon a reference to the MOZ Trio, so I hit that link and was led to this CD "Sparkling Water, Please" (Oh Yeah Records 2013), a trio recording from Sweden with Gothenburg-based musicians Martina and Owe Almgren on drums and bass guitar respectively. I also came across the description as "contemporary jazz with Nordic light and Bengali heat" and while I am not sure of that description, I would call it modern piano trio music of the highest caliber played by three clearly sympathetic individuals having a really good time.

While this is described as a set among equals, Rahman is really out front for much of the time and provides everything I want to hear from her. At times she plays with fire, at others with a light and elicate touch, but she always displays the expressive and lyrical touch that I associate with her. I have a set list but no information on whether the music is all a product of the band members or not and if so if the music was collectively written. I am not sure either how much is  composed and how much is improvised.

But what I do know is that it is all lovely. "Sparkling Water, Please" is driven by Rahman, but has plenty of space for Owe to take his bows on the bass and for Martina to guide the rhythms from her drum set. It asparkles with Rahman's light touch on the keys and a buoyant melody played at nice relaxed pace and dynamic level.

"Back", the second piece, is a slower tune led by the bass with piano support at first. The tempo increases with the entry of the drums and Zoe takes over with a bouncier version of the melody, which she trades back and forth with Owe on bass. Very skillful give and take; when one leads the other plays an outstanding counter-melody underneath. The tune speeds up more and more and the dexterity of the players is breath-taking.

And so it continues, one lovely piece after another displaying virtuosity on all three instruments. Lots of long lyrical play and controlled dynamics thorughout, but Rahman always shines thorugh for me. The romanticism of "April Sun" is stunning. Her lines and expresive play on "Crystal Clear", her bouncy tune on "For a Change" or her quiet impressions on "Host", each is a small jewel.

This is a CD worth having, and is a lot more than just a stop gap until she leads another. It is a real gem.

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