The Bridge Trio sticks to your ribs. This is very much an idiomatic expression, rooted in American soul about fulfillment, satisfaction, and sustenance. There’s a quality to this band that is akin to a good meal. The music of pianist Conun Pappas, Jr., bassist Max Moran, and drummer Joe Dyson isn’t that of the usual piano trio. It’s forward moving, respectful of the genre, and is the epitome of what 21st century jazz should be. This alone makes their latest album, The Search: Departure so fulfilling, but the depths of its brilliance take things even further.
There are electronic influences here that aren’t subtle but add extra texture. “Warrior” glides along as though constantly arriving into some triumphant, but final battle. “Hipness” has an early-00s vibe to it that still doesn’t manage to sound dated. “Forever Changed” sounds like some forgotten Marc Cary song that’s found new life. “Wondering is a downright earworm to the best degree, like an Ahmad Jamal song in all the best possible ways.
All this isn’t to say the band is chameleonic. They aren’t cribbing their ideas from the greats, necessarily, but they are certainly inspired by them. Their background working with the late great Alvin Batiste had to have provided such a background in the musical language that gives them just the right mix of homage and innovation. Ultimately, The Bridge Trio are a great band making great music. They’re pushing boundaries in all the right ways while still holding to the tenets of the genre. The Bridge: Departure proves this fantastically and will do so on each and every listen through it.
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.