While I am not a jazz reviewer, nor do I intend to become one, I am a long-time jazz fan and one-time jazz radio show host, so I can be kind of a sucker for jazz-based discs that arrive in the Hypnagogue mailbox. Luckily for guitarist David Pedrick, of Pedrick Bitts Walker, my personal favorite jazz arrangement is the trio–frontman, bass, and drums. Normally I like my trios headed by piano; I could listen to Bud Powell or Ahmad Jamal all day. So here comes Pedrick Bitts Walker’s Three, with guitar, bass, and drums, all improvising, live and unrehearsed and bound only by a “unifying concept…of designated meters, tempos and sonorities based upon the number three,” and soon enough I’m kicking back and digging into a nice set of exchanges and interchanges between three solid musicians. Pedrick, bassist Mike Bitts, and drummer Aaron Walker all share the front. Bitts’ work takes on a very lyrical feel in “Two” (the tracks are just their order number), playfully running alongside Pedrick’s picking and taking the lead late in the track. Throughout the disc he’s right there supporting Pedrick’s moves, laying out super-fluid lines and keeping the rhythm section locked down. Walker slides up front on “Four,” pounding away as Pedrick and Bitts keep pace with the click and check of muted strings, and is the skin-slamming superstar of “Eight,” conjuring six minutes of serious thunder to an unchanging rasp from the strings. (It’s quite a way to end the disc!) Pedrick, however, is the “singer” of the trio, and his rich hollow-body noodlings are top shelf jazz. I like the Latin flair he brings to the title track, peppered with speedy runs up and down the neck. His phrasing is tight, and he knows when to dial it back and support. He plays with pleasing restraint; there’s no fear of wild avant-garde grandstanding here, just the pure shine of the notes. Although it must be said that he cuts loose a little on “Six”–but he could just be following Bitts’ cue as the bass has apparently gotten a dose of sugar, too, especially late in the track.
One thing that shines brightly on Three is the sense of sitting in some intimate club where you’re just feet from the stage, watching as these guys play and challenge one another and pull fresh directions out of the moment. The sound is clean and vibrant and the work doesn’t get bogged in the cacophony that can plague improv. Sit back and enjoy three musicians at play on Three.
Available from David Pedrick’s web site.