Self-release // 2014
Matthew Fries – piano
Phil Palombi – bass
Keith Hall – drums
Marking 10 years of performing, composing and recording together, this fifth album by TRI-FI is another set of all-original music. I think you will hear an honesty and maturity in the trio’s playing (it has been 10 years!), and the joy in the music is clearly TRI-FI through and through.
- Track List
For ten years TRI-FI has been creating original jazz music, developing a personal style that is contemporary while still deep in the tradition of the classic piano trio – a sound that is fresh and unique but somehow familiar. Unlike so many of the thrown- together pickup groups on the jazz scene, TRI-FI is a real band: a cooperative trio of award-winning musicians that has been playing their own original music together for years, with all three members contributing compositions.
In 2003, Matthew Fries (winner of the Great American Jazz Piano Competition), Phil Palombi (Grammy Award winning bassist) and Keith Hall (respected educator and director of the Keith Hall Summer Drum Intensive) were brought together as the rhythm section for singer Curtis Stigers and toured extensively playing at many of the major jazz festivals including Montreux, North Sea, Rochester, Montreal, Toronto, Vail and Aspen. TRI-FI formed the trio as a workshop to create and perform original music, rooted in their jazz history experience but fresh in its modern style.
TRI-FI has been called “a terrific piano trio” by Downbeat Magazine, praised for “the perpetual forward thrust of the music… and their flawless intercommunication” by All About Jazz, and described as infusing “creative writing, fresh arranging and complimentary playing to offer us music that has to be reckoned with” by JazzReview.com. All Music Guide says, “TRI-FI is well on their way to incorporating new style and strength to their already potent brand of piano trio music.”
Downbeat Magazine rating:
Reviewed alongside The North – “Slow Down (This Isn’t the Mainland)”
Listening to these trio CDs, the first things that jump out are the introspective elements—the ways in which each trio develops songs, motifs, ideas, grooves shadows and light. On Tri-Fi’s fifth release, Staring into the Sun, as well as with The North’s debut, Slow Down (This Isn’t the Mainland), there’s an unfolding quality, which makes you wonder if this kind of music could ever be performed except in that most rarefied of settings—the controlled dynamics of a recording studio.
The clairvoyance of these three members can be mesmerizing. The 10-year-old group has had plenty of experience dealing in deft musical configurations as the backup band for singer Curtis Stigers. As with The North, there is a robust, expressionist vibe that surfaces when Tri-Fi decides they want to kick ass. What makes the all-originals Staring into the Sun such a satisfying listen has to do with the obvious grace and ease that pianist Matthew Fries, bassist Phil Palombi and drummer Keith Hall have making their music (all three are composers as well). The music flows as much as it swings and soars. On Fries’ lilting swinger “Open Water,” Palombi’s conversational bass solo seems inevitable, welcomed, Hall’s tasteful, bite-sized rhythm breaks a natural complement, and Fries’ melody seems like a modest understatement. This pattern continues throughout, with Palombi’s waltz ballad “Cielo” at once both quiet and intense, and Hall’s busy drum work is paradoxically fitting. Call it a relaxed yet fervent approach to express joy, wonder, surprise. The kind of qualities jazz lovers look for anytime they’re hungry for connection.