When the Tom Cleary Trio arrived in VPR's Performance Studio this past Monday night there was an expectation for jazz improvisation of a high order.
All three musicians (Tom Cleary-piano; John Rivers-bass; Jeff Salisbury-drums) are faculty of the UVM Music Department's Jazz Studies Program. They teach and communicate with students and audiences every day.
While setting up microphones and getting the drums and bass lined up so everyone could see each other, Tom told stories about his recent work with Mike Gordon (from Phish) and with the Vermont fusion band Fragile Zoe (fellow UVM faculty).
Tom then continued to draw from his widely diverse background to offer some very focused insights into the music of the great bop pianist, Bud Powell.
The piano trio in jazz has a similar place to the string quartet in classical music. It's an intimate form built around careful listening, and rich simultaneous improvisation often filled with melodic and chordal allusions and direct quotes from other songs. Cleary's trio also infused their melodies with layered lines of musical meaning, shifting moods from quietly introspective to bright and outwardly colorful.
Thanks to listener support for making special live moments like this possible every day (and night!) on VPR.
- George Thomas, VPR Jazz host
You can also catch the Trio in concert this Sunday, April 18th at 3 p.m. at Christ Church Presbyterian in Burlington.