Friday, August 5, 2016

Joe Mulholland Trio: Runaway Train

Zoho Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Runaway Train

Boston always has been a magnet for musical artists, both classical and jazz, and is famous for the many artists and organizations that call it home. Many jazz greats were students at the Berklee College of Music or the New England Conservatory of Music, and later joined the teaching staff at one or the other. Three such individuals comprise the Joe Mulholland Trio. 

Mulholland, a pianist, has been affiliated with Berklee since 1954, and currently is a professor of harmony. Drummer Bob Tamagni is a professor of percussion at the same school; bassist Bob Nieske is artist-in-residence and director of jazz at the New England Conservatory of Music. They also play professionally, and have enjoyed a 15-year gig at Boston’s Top of the Hub club.

This is the trio’s first release on Zoho Records, although they’ve recorded three previous CDs. Six of these nine tracks are originals composed by Mulholland; the others are jazz standards by Miles Davis (“Nardis”), Jimmy Giuffre (“Me Too”), and Arthur Schwartz and Howard Deitz (“Alone Together”). 

This is a tasty, less-is-more group. The melodic content and chord structure of Mulholland’s originals are based not only on creating a pleasant tune, but on exposing his students to the various aspects of music: meter, timing, genre and composition. One of the charts is done in 5/4 (“Lesser Than”); another (“Phrenology”) incorporates a bop feel; “The Same Sky” contains counter-melodic lines.

Whatever; everything is entertaining. It would be great if this group performed close enough to visit — and enjoy — on a regular basis.

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