Artists like Nick Mazzarella, Matt Ulery and Jeremy Cunningham, the members of Meridian Trio, are keeping the Chicago jazz scene alive and as strong as ever. All of them are highly demanded sidemen and also the leaders of their own projects, including the popular Nick Mazzarella Quintet, Matt Ulery’s folkish, chamber jazz group Loom, and the ambient Jeremy Cunningham Quartet. But this triangular combo organized in 2014 by Mazzarella, the group’s composer, is a vehicle for the three musicians to stretch their respective skills and develop new ideas. All three have the capacity to move in many musical directions, and they do. “Triangulum” keeps links with the jazz tradition and goes to unknown territories, destroying all the remaining distinctions that some more distracted listeners (and players) still make between “mainstream” and “avant-garde”. The music is very affirmative, but it’s also flexible. It can get complex but always swings, and even if there’s a triangular hierarchy, with Mazzarella’s alto saxophone on the top and Ulery’s double bass and Cunningham’s drum set occupying the bottom, they all have strong personalities and the music reflects it. The references of open form jazz adopted by the band couldn’t be more uplifting – Ornette Coleman’s Golden Circle Trio and Henry Threadgill’s Air. But take notice – though these models may serve as inspiration for Meridian Trio, listening to this record we quickly have the impression that new ground is being covered. Chicago has more to offer, and here it is.
All compositions by Nick Mazzarella (BMI)
Recorded live at the Whistler in Chicago by Dave Zuchowski on January 12 and 26, 2016 | Mixed and mastered by Dave Zuchowski and Nick Mazzarella
Produced by Nick Mazzarella | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos