Mike Mainieri/Marnix Busstra Quartet "Trinary Motion / Live in Europe" (Jazz Inside)
By Eric Harabadian
This live 2008 two disc set was recorded in early December over three days in Belgium and The Netherlands. This is a strong and vibrant pairing of American vibraphonist Mainieri with three European musicians for a meeting that brings together a modern impressionistic sensibility with good old fashioned bebop.
The date begins with the simply titled “Piece.” This intrepid tune is fueled by a deceptively simple bass hook that anchors the entire composition, allowing for a simultaneous ebb and flow of established melody and full-on experimentation to take place. “My Good Leg” recalls Mainieri’s tenure with Steps Ahead as he gracefully addresses the vibes supported by a funky yet swinging rhythm section. A take on a traditional Indian children’s song “Kannada” is an interesting departure in the program as Busstra approaches the melody on bouzouki. “Don’t Break Step” ushers in a traditional bebop element, with a brisk and somewhat angular unison head by Busstra and Mainieri. “Strega” brings in another flavor again that is darkly cool and a tad film noir. “It’s Done” is a somber and serene piece that is beautifully played by Busstra. And “Lost in Little Spain” concludes the first set/disc with a raga-like drone that sets the pace for a Scofield/Stern inspired piece.
The second set/disc continues the festivities in a cool and relaxed manner. There is an urbane feel to the opening of their performance here that is an inventive balance of ambience and the blues. Mainieri’s “All in a Row” seems like somewhat of a musical exercise but remains playful, with its odd and angular melody. The title track “Trinary Motion” is another Mainieri composition, with very inspired phrasing and inventive ideas. The vibist really steps out floating on a sea of strong rhythm and tasteful comping from Busstra. Marnix Busstra’s acoustic guitar resolves the night on “Square Brown/From Father to Friend” providing an intriguing blend of folk and swing.
This two disc set is an incredible package and offers a really interesting and engaging display of some true modern jazz masters at work.