ARC Trio Triptych Mirror

What makes this CD so compelling is its sheer musicality: when it’s textural, it paints with luminous colours and timbres; when it’s rhythmical, it darts and weaves; when it’s lyrical, it sings. Led by pianist Rick Helzer, a professor of jazz studies at San Diego State, the trio listen acutely to each other without climbing over one another to comment on every idea. Instead, they have a sophisticated understanding of space and of call-and-response improvisation. Helzer has a mature, individualised style, by turns reminiscent of Paul Bley, Andrew Hill and Denny Zeitlin, but it’s never derivative. Bassist Justin Grinnell locks onto the flow of the music and creates flowing lines of intriguing subtleties, which find hidden riches in spots other bassists often overlook. On tunes like "Ballad of the Credit Card Millionaire,” drummer Nathan Hubbard is sure-footed, providing lively, supportive interplay that unifies the music and shows why players love the balance and freedom that can only be found in a really good jazz trio. And ARC Trio are a really good jazz trio. (Circumvention)