Ralph Peterson Jr - Triangular III Live Concert Review

Triangular III - Ralph, Zaccai and LuquesRalph Peterson Jr.: Triangular III Live Concert Review
By C. ANDREW HOVAN

Published: April 15, 2016
At the age of 53, Ralph Peterson has come full circle in terms of his role in modern jazz. Back in the '80s, he was considered a "young lion" when he debuted with hard bop collective Out of the Blue. These days, he can be considered an accomplished jazz elder, giving back generously to a new generation of up and comers as a dedicated educator. It is in this spirit that he has assembled a new piano trio group with two of the best and brightest talents on the current scene, pianist Zaccai Curtis and his brother Luques Curtis on bass.

The first installment of the Triangular series goes back to the 1989 Blue Note session featuring Geri Allen. Then in 2000 the sophomore set would spotlight pianist David Kikoski. This latest incarnation is something different altogether, both in the fact that it is a live recording and that there's a special element contained in the work of the Curtis brothers that seems to really inspire Peterson to new heights. Furthermore, this is a musician-owned product bearing the imprimaturs of both Onyx Records and Truth Revolution.

A mentor of Peterson's, pianist Walter Davis Jr. gave the drummer an early education in growth and development as an artist. One need go no further than a listen to Davis's Steeplechase set Scorpio Rising to hear the innate potential of the young drummer. Peterson repays the favor by featuring three of Davis' sublime originals. The opening "Uranus" is a genuine flag-waver, with its ingenious use of an eight note repeated vamp that provides the underlayment for one of Ralph's incendiary solos. "Backgammon" is notable for a sublime statement from Luques, a fully developed story that hits the high points and low points and everything in between. The bassist also ushers in "400 Years Ago Tomorrow," a stately melody that is contrasted against a swing-inflected blowing section.

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