Tim Laughlin, The Trio Collection Vol. 1 (Gentilly Records)

Tim Laughlin, The Trio Collection Vol. 1, Album Cover, OffBeat Magazine April 2014

After having several house parties/concerts at his house in the Vieux Carré, clarinetist Tim Laughlin decided that he should record his next record there. Given the quality of the music on The Trio Collection Vol. 1, it was an excellent decision.

There is a bright and open quality to the sound and music here. Everybody played in the same room and it is easy to hear the simple intimacy of musicians playing together. Laughlin choses both standards and lesser-known tunes to fill out this collection, and the way that the band, which includes Hal Smith on drums and David Boeddinghaus on piano, plays the non-standards, they should be standards.

Boeddinghaus supplies a great base with his stride playing that the bass instrument is not missed, and Smith’s rhythms supply a pushing energy without losing tempo or time. Laughlin’s instrument is airy and light and joyous. Laughlin has a lilt to his playing, and this comes out as he plays the dancing melody of Eubie Blake’s “You’re Lucky to Me” and Walter Donaldson’s “My Baby Just Cares For Me.”

Laughlin’s one compositional contribution to this record, “Esplanade,” is a pretty ballad in the low register where his slightly reedy soloing and slower tempo captures a saunter by the houses under the trees of this lovely avenue. “Esplanade” ranks up there with Laughlin’s previous compositions as some of the finest, recently written songs about New Orleans in the traditional vein. I miss hearing more of his originals on this excellent and beautiful recording (taking nothing away from the song choices he has made here), but given this is only volume one, there is hope for more on the next albums in this series.