Led by the drummer the Boston Herald described in 1996 as “the powerhouse who drove the Basie sound,” Stop-Start is a horn trio recording that features the interplay of three veteran instrumental masters. Inspired by jazz tradition, the program includes originals and interpretations of compositions by John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Ornette Coleman, Lee Morgan, and Mal Waldron.
1 Tray-Bo (04:50)
2 Up Against The Wall (05:48)
3 Stop-Start (04:31)
4 Con-Alma (05:26)
5 In Fine Line (05:55)
6 Late Bloomer (07:44)
7 26-2 (03:56)
8 Soul Eyes (05:10)
9 Happy House (01:44)
Composed by Clay for his son, Travis, “Tray-Bo” is written in AAB form and utilizes asymmetric phrases. Beginning with a duo format of trumpet and drums, the bass joins in during the B section. Listen to the interplay and conversational quality the Trio creates throughout.
“Up Against The Wall,” a John Coltrane blues, cooks along at a medium-slow tempo that emphasizes the absence of piano and allows the Trio plenty of space to interact.
“Stop-Start” by Lee Morgan challenges the Trio because it vacillates between Latin and straight-ahead feels. Written in an AABA form, its style best represents the Trio and is thus the title cut.
Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con-Alma” is one of the Trio’s favorites. The form lends itself to many interpretations and in this setting we decided to extend the intro with a tone-color treatment of the beginning harmonic ideas. Listen to the mastery Clay Jenkins employs as he slips from the solo into the melody with seamless precision.
“In Fine Line,” another Jenkins composition, has become one of the Trio’s signature pieces. It features a rather obtuse and technically challenging musical bass line pitted against a demanding trumpet melody. I’ve constructed a four-bar drum phrase that presents a phasing or skewing effect that makes the piece sound as if three different lines are occurring simultaneously. There are also target measures that separate the three tonal areas of the tune.
“Late Bloomer” by Clay Jenkins is a new tune for the Trio, and we were immediately taken by its rhythmic feel and buoyancy. The open framework provides many possibilities, and the Trio explores a longer intro coupled with alternate sound possibilities in the drums and bass. Nearly two minutes in length, this intro could almost be considered a piece in itself. Pay close attention to Jeff’s foreshadowing of the ostinato bass line and the manner in which the Trio builds Clay’s solo into a duo and, finally, to an intense trio exchange. I explore the use of fingers and hand drumming to accompany Jeff’s bass solo.
“26-2” is a well-known John Coltrane standard from Coltrane’s Sound. This track provides a chance to reconnect with our roots and show the listening community the great respect we feel for our forefathers in jazz. Clay and I stretch out on our solos as the Trio reworks this classic.
Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes” is the only ballad featured. Because it is a personal favorite, and given the fact that the composer had passed away only a few weeks before our December 2002 recording session, we wanted to dedicate this recording to Mal and his great work throughout his life. The performance exudes a haunting and reverent quality..
“Happy House” is a rather obscure Ornette Coleman tune that seemed a natural solo vehicle for me to demonstrate the expressive quality of brushes. I have a great supporting cast for this 21-bar tune (19 bars on the head out), and I hope you have as much fun listening to it as I did recording it. — Rich Thompson, June 2003
I knew from the first notes we played together in December of 2001 that these musicians had alot in common. The visceral quality in everyone’s playing, combined with the constant communication we felt each Thursday night during our gig at the Little Theatre Café was undeniable. This venue quickly became one of my favorites because of the energy and creativity we felt free to unleash. From week to week, I never knew how any tune – jazz standard or original – was going to sound until we were in the moment. In an effort to recreate this spirit of spontaneity and honesty in the studio, we recorded each tune once, twice at most. I hope that the music herein will be among your favorites as well. — Rich Thompson
After having played together every week for an entire year, it is very fulfilling for this trio to have completed this recording. We have established a wonderful relationship, working within both the parameters and the freedoms of a trio setting. I have always enjoyed playing in a trio with bass and drums. Playing with Jeff and Rich has been an enriching musical experience. — Clay Jenkins
I enjoy Trio East because each of us brings a strong sense of the jazz tradition to the group. Perhaps more importantly, we allow an adventurous spirit to exist with the intent of moving the music forward. I also enjoy this group because the primary responsibility of the harmonic definition falls to the bass. In this situation, I’m allowed a certain amount of latitude to support and shape the overall harmonic content and direction of the music. The music on this recording represents a period in the ongoing (and never-ending) maturation process of the individual and collective musicianship of Rich, Clay, and myself. — Jeff Campbell
"Trio East, a group of jazz academics in upstate New York, manages to produce enough harmonic definition and richness of sonority among trumpet, bass and drums to make a keyboard seem almost superfluous…. A former student of Peter Erskine, Thompson shares his teacher's deftness.."
— Indianapolis Star, June 2005
"…excellent album… they’ve got chops.… Of the nine tracks on Stop-Start, three are impressive originals by Jenkins. The trumpeter by turns delivers rapid-fire runs and displays a more economic sensibility, sometimes repeating a two-note figure to develop a groove…Trio East has a good thing going and we hope its next visit will be sooner rather than later."
— All About Jazz New York, May 2005
"Clay Jenkins succeeds… is particularly resourceful in investing ideas. He evokes some intense imagery on “Up Against the Wall” and he changes intonation and direction to give the tune some good depth. They rework “Soul Eyes” with a sensitive delicacy… with Thompson's exemplary use of the brushes adding to the lure,… Thompson and Campbell have an engaging conversation that's well worth eavesdropping on."
— All About Jazz, May 2005
"Each brings a singular skill and presence to the recording.… Thompson does a brilliant job of filling in spaces while playing with dynamics and finesse. …this date is a refreshing and challenging endeavor. Playing is excellent all the way through. Recording quality reminds one of the old Blue Note dates…. For fans of traditional jazz styles played with contemporary skill and knowledge, this set is worthy of your attention. Drummers everywhere will enjoy this one… check it out; you will not be disappointed!"
— All About Jazz, April 2005
"Jenkins’ pungent solos and declarative presence set a fierce tone on several numbers, one that’s more than matched by the counterpoint and interaction of Thompson and Campbell…. Here’s a group that deserves at least a small share of the publicity being given to the Bad Plus, and they’re also far more grounded in the jazz sensibility."
— Nashville City Paper , April 2005
"If you're anywhere near as much of a jazz fan as I am, you'll jump right on this! …this is a precision team that are "wound" right into each others' psyches. This is th' kinda' jazz that has "meat" on it's bones, with somethin' for each & ev'ry listener to groove to. If you've never really listened to much jazz before, this is one of the best places for you to start… I mean, it's ALL here! I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!."
— Improvijazzation Nation, 2005
"…bursts out of the gate into a running improvisation that sizzles. There is no need for gadgetry when the musicians know how to maximize the potentials fo their instruments… Clay Jenkins skillfully lets the phrases breathe, then pauses to draw us in to the next set of artistic choices. If this trio was not so proficient, Rich Thompson's drum "part" could itself be holistically analyzed as a solo improvisation. Beautiful… celebrates the best of bop jazz. Rich Thompson's drums run along the edge of combustion. Trio East plays with several trios worth of musical business… Selflessness makes this album greate for intelligent fans of well-played bop."
— Jazz Improv, December 2004