JP Cartet - trumpet
Russell Scholberg - bass, saw, thumb piano
Skye Brooks - drums
Drip Audio 2010
With piano trio and sax trio being probably the most popular line-ups in jazz music, one could expect that a trio led by a trumpet (an instrument commonly associated primarily with jazz genre) would be much more of a common thing, while the fact is that a group like that remains relatively rare (Stef Gijssels compiles a nice list to be found here).
That being said, this one makes a nice addition to category. While the trio has been playing together for some years now, this is their first official release and showcases both matured group interplay and fresh attitude (which made me put them in the 'newcomer band' top3 in my votes for El Intruso Poll 2010). And it both delivers and promise more good music coming from this group, even if it as uncertain what path will they follow - as this is a very much an album of two faces.
Half (well, slighly more - 7 pieces, 25 mins total) is completely improvised, raw, searching, with lot of space. With no real soloing but rather joint sonic journey. Displaying a lot of sensitivity and the spirit of adventure (check low, growling tones on trumpet in "Pre Rumble" under high-tones of arco bass, an unusal change of roles). Without overdoing their playing (like in minimalistic call and response that begins spacious "Plastic Farm Animals") musicians manage to both show their considerable skills and create intriguing sonic landscapes full of surprising details (JP's sound on trumpet is really inspiring, moving through all kinds of sonic effects, sometimes robust, sometimes muted and hissing).
The other half (slightly less, 4 pieces, 20 mins) is made by compositions, or songs even. "Lucky Loonie" (by Russell) introduces joyfull melody that is not unlike some New Orleans march, but the improvisation in the middle goes into a completely different territory, eerie and atmospheric. "Whitehorse" (JP) grooves in the best of ways, with funky, quite catchy melody and just the right kick provided by the simple bass line and the ticking hi-hat. "Callejuela" (JP) is a rock ballad, not romantic but melancholic, reminding me of some of Radiohead melodies. Also "Crow's Nest" (Russell) could be featured, if given some lyrics, on a rock album - nice melody fits clearly into the form of a song, and the rhythm sections provides a steady and solid backbone to the proceedings.
Succeding easily in both fields Aeroplane Trio can be as much praised for diversity they are offering, as criticised for resulting lack of unity. Frankly I don't mind that as much (I find this inner-contrast rather inspiring) and I imagine if one does, most of the cd-players allow to programm the track-playing order so it could be easily arranged that improvs wouldn't mix with the compositions on the cd. I guess it all depends on what is one's view on the concept of an 'album' and I prefer to treat most of jazz cds, including this one, as documentation of work in progress and "Naranja Ha" presents You with some great music and introduces a band that one can only hope will continue to play together and will keep progressing.
The release has an additional dvd disc. You can see some 44 mins of concert material - two improvisations, live version of "Callejuela" and two another songs by JP. And it also presents You with "Getting to Naranja Ha" - a video interview, nicely edited and quite informative about the band members history of playing together and their influences. Welcomed bonus to already a very satisfying package.