Ali Jackson’s drumming looks much harder than it sounds. That is, the two are incongruent: his face is so animated, strained, and contorted at times while his sound is all grace and agility. Jackson’s kinetic emotion is the foundation for his trio with bassist Omer Avital and pianist Aaron Goldberg. It’s rarely serious, however. I have yet to see an ensemble having so much fun on stage together, so enthusiastically absorbed by their music. It translated into a whimsical interplay. Some solos were even funny, a musical punch line, before the trio raced into the next turn showcasing its dexterity.
The group opened with an original piece by Avital, “Homeland”, before moving on to an entertaining deconstruction of Thelonious Monk’s “Epistrophy”. The group’s incredible touch was evident on Abdullah Ibrahim’s “Maraba Blue” as Jackson began drumming with only his hands before the piece grew into a full blues jam. The set’s highlight, however, if its not feature, was the addition of Gillespie authority and pupil John Faddis. (Dizzy’s Club is honoring its namesake this week in honor of his birthday, October 21). Faddis’ range is unmatched, and he ripped off squealing solos to the audience’s, and trio’s, delight. On “Dizzying Atmosphere” he was dynamic and unabashed, the perfect leader to top Jackson’s egalitarian trio.
Ali Jackson Trio with Aaron Goldberg, Omer Avital, and Jon Faddis plays at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center October 18-21, and with Vincent Gardner October 22-23.