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Florian Ross

Big Fish and Small Pond

(Intuition; US: 6 Jun 2006; UK: 5 Jun 2006)

The bass opens, announcing a trio rather than piano with bass and drums set.  Dietmar Fuhr plays strong lines, sometimes matched by the same from Ross’s piano, sometimes floated by pianistic colour and the inventive accents of Stéphane Huchard’s drums. “Swim” is a little suite which threads its way through other numbers, “Lucky for a Quarter” echoing I’m not sure what from Bernstein, and the trio for finesse reminding me of a Haden-Motian-Geri Allen trio album I’ve long been fond of. Some high points come when, instead of staying happy to complement the others, one guy shifts tack, and by giving the other players’ work a new context, alters the general direction, reshapes it. Fuhr can at one point be heard vocalizing. He uses his big sound to move things, broadly conducting Ross’s compositions while Huchard attends to details.

Nobody plays lots of notes, Ross composed all but one of the themes, and dynamics and interaction do most of the work. There’s a cleaving to simplicity, nothing involved, apart from the often strong emphasis on rhythm. Occasionally, when doomy-sounding, the bass seems to take centre stage, but nobody stays there long. This set is very much about interaction within the trio, and while in no other respect resembling a blues album, it hardly features that much more variety of material.

The initially Bill Evans Trio-ish “Giant Steps” might suggest more material not by Ross could have been a good idea, impelling him into fresh chordings; by the end, by way of some very attractive melodic inventions, he and Fuhr have recast this generally much recorded number, taking it maybe to even more new places than it’s seen. Ross’s themes are a little short of variety, sometimes reminiscent of a number of others, far from fatal on a still very attractive CD making the most of everything.


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