The Bridge Trio, The Search: Departure (Independent)

At this point in their blossoming careers, the individual members’ names—pianist/keyboardist Conun Pappas, bassist Max Moran and drummer Joe Dyson—are perhaps better known then the collective’s moniker, The Bridge Trio.

That’s primarily because each of the musicians—all graduates of the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts who came up under the tutelage of saxophonist Donald Harrison—have been involved in other various pursuits. It’s thus fulfilling that they’ve kept the team alive and released another album, The Search: Departure, a solid follow-up to its impressive 2012 self-titled debut.

It opens literally electrically with Pappas and Moran both seriously plugged in with sparks flying from Dyson’s cymbals on the keyboardist’s “Access Approved.” Pappas composed the majority of material here, with Moran and Dyson contributing two tunes each.

Just an observation is that some groups tend to end songs with bravado, while The Bridge Trio seems to enjoy hitting hard at the opening as heard on Dyson’s “Ode to Black” a tribute to the great New Orleans drummer/composer James Black. On the tune, Dyson and the trio capture Black’s eccentric, edgy essence that is at also melodic. It’s all acoustic—the power comes from within the musicians themselves.

A startling flair of drums opens Pappas’ “Keep Cool” while Moran offers some appreciated quieter moments. His earthy bass is prominent on the straight-up, slow blues “To New Orleans.” It’s clear Pappas knows of what he plays—his hometown is alive in his references. His piano also makes a strong statement at the onset of his “The Encourager.” Dyson stuns on this one with his unusual entrances—he’s listening, ready to pounce with an unexpected idea.

The Search: Departure boasts such body and depth it’s easy to forget that the ensemble is just three accomplished musicians—The Bridge Trio.