Despite the fact that this is the Bridge Trio’s first album, as a musical unit the group has already stunned audiences worldwide and gained a great deal of critical acclaim as the rhythm section for Donald Harrison, Jr.’s band and also performing with their mentor, the late Alvin Batiste. Reared by Batiste at the New Orleans Center For the Creative Arts (NOCCA), these three musicians are deeply connected to the roots of New Orleans music while, similar to their mentor, never shying away from taking the music in new directions. Their self-titled debut is a modern-jazz gem that spotlights a diverse range of original material played with soul, dynamism and musical sensibility.
Pianist Conun Pappas, bassist Max Moran, and drummer Joe Dyson all contribute new songs to the album. The opening tune, “125th and Broadway,” has an infectious groove so effortless that it disguises the complexity of the rhythms being played. Likewise, on “Rapture” drummer Dyson drops a beat akin to second-line, but plays it in three/four time alongside a syncopated electric bass pattern and dancing piano line, which creates a rhythm as irresistible as it is indefinable. On the album’s lone standard “Body and Soul” (featuring guest vocalist Davell Crawford), the trio frames New Orleans bounce rhythms in a jazz setting and breathes new life to a jazz mainstay.
One of the elements that sets the Bridge Trio apart from other young jazz artists is that these musicians don’t rely on their chops to impress listeners. While it’s obvious that each player has incredible dexterity on his instrument, the focus is on making music as an ensemble, gracefully weaving textures over everchanging dynamics that displays a musical maturity far beyond the band’s years. This intuitive sense has, no doubt, been fostered in the countless hours they have spent playing together on stage (and off) with Harrison and Batiste.