Three’s Company - We'll Be Together Again
(Chesky Records JD376. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)
Three’s Company are Javon Jackson on saxophone, Ron Carter on bass, and Billy Drummond on drums: as the band says, just the three of them. They may not make a big sound, but recorded using binaural techniques, this record has an understated intimacy that makes them sound as if the trio are right there in the room. The result is a CD that feels like a live show in a small club.
Binaural recordings are apparently designed to sound best with over-the-ear hifi headphones. And thus CD sounds great wearing those: all the instruments are clear, with a full bass, a lively, crisp drum and cymbal sound, and a rich, deep saxophone. But with other set ups - such as in ear headphones common with iPods and similar devices, and hifi speakers - the bass and drums seem low in the mix, weedy and washed out, to the extent of being occasionally inaudible. More than ever, how this record sounds may depend on how you like to listen to music.
Playing a mixture of standards and originals (some of which, like Carter's For Toddler's Only and Candlelight, are also standards in their own right), the result is a series of mid- and slow tempo tunes in which all three musicians sound great. But Beautiful is aptly named, played mostly as a duet between Jackson and Carter with some low key interjection from Drummond’s brushes.
They take Dark Eyes, originally a 19th century Russian tune, and move it to another continent and another time with a punchy Latin beat. The traditional Danny Boy is taken much more slowly, and perhaps respectfully.
The playing is excellent throughout. Jackson has a soft, gentle tone, seductive and beguiling. Carter's solos are imaginative and engaging. Though he takes a couple of solos, Drummond’s percussion is more low key, subtly pushing the music along.
The result is very compelling: an immersive experience with the trio right there in the room - a long as you've got your headphones on.
Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.