Pianist Rob Barron has been part of the London jazz scene for so long, that it's hard to believe that this is only his second solo album. Moreover, having seen him perform with his trio on countless occasions, this is his first trio recording as leader; his debut album, What's In Store, was a quarter recording featuring Colin Oxley. Barron is joined by his long-standing partners, Jeremy Brown on bass and Josh Morrison on drums, the same musicians that also featured on his debut.
The album is a pleasing mix of standards and originals. It opens with a sprightly read of Lover Man. The bond between the trio is obvious from the start, and there's a fine solo from Barron, who's on fine form throughout. Pure Imagination was written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, works well in a jazz setting, and is probably one of the album's highlights. My Foolish Heart has been performed by all piano trios, but Barron still makes it sound fresh here, to his credit.
It's good to hear Oliver Nelson's Butch and Butch get an outing here; a good example of a lesser-known tune from a classic album that deserves a fresh listen. I don't think the Trio bring much new to Ellington's In A Sentimental Mood; Cole Porter's From This Moment On and As Time Goes By work better, for me at least, the latter given a gently swinging beat, courtesy of Josh Morrison.
There are two originals, designed to reflect two sides of Barron's personality. Fortune Green is a delightful ballad, whilst Evidently is a more up-tempo number, which showcases Barron's dazzling playing.
It's always a pleasure to hear this Trio in action. My only complaint is that they lean too heavily on the standards here. Whilst that's understandable, for a debut trio recording, it would have been nice to hear them reinterpret some more contemporary tunes that are not necessarily associated with jazz. Barron cites Cedar Walton as a major influence, and quotes him as saying, "my aim is to write music that is enjoyable to play and enjoyable to listen to". In that regard, there's plenty to enjoy here, and hopefully we'll get the chance to see them back in action before too long.