Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine

March/April 2009: Steve Turre

Jeff Presslaff: red goddess

Written by:

I’ve known Jeff Presslaff for six years, and I’ve heard him in many different playing situations. I think with red goddess, we have my favourite way to appreciate Presslaff’s artistry: he’s leading a piano trio through a collection of his originals, and that gives us a chance to really hear his musical personality.

Jeff is a multi-faceted musician who writes and arranges, and plays both piano and trombone. In this recording, we get a good illustration of his writing and his piano work. Jeff is joined by Julian Bradford, an up-and-coming Winnipeg bass player with a great sound. Scott Senior, who brings a lot of experience as a percussionist to the drum kit, rounds out the trio. The three show a great deal of ease and musical camaraderie as they move through unconventional and often soft-spoken melodic constructions, while exploring quirky harmonic schemes. The structures are open enough that the three players can really talk to each other, and the conversation is engaging.

In red goddess, I hear echoes of The Bad Plus, another adventurous trio who challenge the adequacy of the term jazz. If you’re looking for an Oscar Peterson, McCoy Tyner or Bud Powell sound, you’re not going to find it here. But if you’re looking for intriguing, contemplative, inquisitive trio music, this is a good bet.

Steve Kirby is the Director of Jazz Studies at the U of M.

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