Groove-laden tracks, textural scenarios, and multi-hued passages are all front and center on (Drouin/Eagles/Froman)—the debut album from trio \ DEF
. The cooperative threesome of bassist Marc-Andre Drouin, guitarist Wayne Eagles
, and drummer Ian Froman
digs deep, delivering music that’s alternately menacing and disarming, barbed and beautiful, and patient and restless. High-octane jams, earthy encounters, and airy ideals all come to the fore at one time or another as this band takes flight on this compelling date.
The members of trio \ DEF all currently hail from different cities, with Drouin living in Montreal
, Eagles ensconced in Ottawa
, and Froman based in New York, but they clearly live in the same contemporary musical realm. Rock solid sounds, airy thoughts, riff- based episodes, and wide-ranging explorations are all part and parcel of their work together. And while trio \ DEF readily acknowledges its direction—creating music that’s “rooted in late-sixties/early seventies experimentation fused with European-style texturalism”—the sonic possibilities are really limitless for this group.
Myriad moods, conflicting emotions, and heady sounds all come to the surface on the album-opening “OmniMouse.” Eagles notes, “It was originally named ‘Ominous’ but I never did like the name, so it morphed into something sillier.” The music, however, is anything but silly. He admits, “It’s a challenging tune that shifts time signatures and contains some interesting harmonic twists.” The funky follow-up track—“BC-ing-ya”—dates back over fifteen years. “It was originally a melancholic tune inspired by guitarist Bill Connors’ early recordings,” Eagles reveals, “but I’ve since turned it into a tribute to some special people who've passed away—my father, my father-in-law, drummer Lorne Kelly, and, in this case, my uncle, Gerrie Leebody. Here we've upped the tempo significantly to give it a more celebratory tone.”
Both of those numbers emit energy and strength, but calmer streams of thought come into view on “JDJ” and “NEME.” “Those two ballads,” shares Eagles, “are my son and daughter's initials; they’re existing tunes that were significantly re-imagined for the session." The former puts a premium on beauty, with quieter and gentler thoughts prevailing, and the latter is a wonder of tripartite craftsmanship, as Froman’s brushes set things up, Eagles’ entrancing melodic musings captivate, and Drouin’s fluid thoughts work above and below the surface.
“Vas-y”—named for the remark uttered at the top of the track, meaning “go ahead” in French—proves to be one of the toothier tracks. Drouin’s sinister bass line(s), Froman’s slick groove work, and Eagles’ go-for-the-jugular guitar all contribute to the excitement. “At Most, Spheric” and Ken Rosser’s “Or Not!” both date back to The Double Duo Sessions
(TetraArtist, 2011)—an experimental outing billed to a group dubbed Regals. Both numbers simply leap forth from the speakers in their new forms. “At Most, Spheric” is a charged piece built around Froman’s ceaseless rhythmic flow while “Or Not!”—a play on “Ornette,” may he rest in peace—is a jam-friendly, John Scofield
-esque parting gift. With those seven tracks, trio \ DEF establishes itself as a force to be reckoned with, and as a band that views respect and interplay as the cornerstones of creation.
The roots of trio \ DEF date back to 2013, when Drouin and Boston
-based drummer Lee Fish arrived in Ottawa to present a masterclass at Carleton University. Eagles, who’s been on the faculty at that institution for more than two decades, seized the opportunity to connect with them. That trio was subsequently offered a spot on the 2014 Ottawa Jazz Festival
bill, but Fish was unavailable for the performance. Eagles immediately thought of NYC-based drummer Ian Froman, who was thankfully available, and trio \ DEF was born. This debut album was recorded shortly after that notable festival appearance.
While Eagles is best known for his work in jazz-fusion settings, he branches out a bit more than usual with this project: trio \ DEF has given him an opportunity to draw inspiration from ECM-associated artists—Terje Rypdal
, David Torn
, and the “Gateway” trio, to name a few. The bulk of the material presented here comes from Eagles’ pen and aurally acknowledges those sources. But in truth, no single sound, source, or style dominates these proceedings. The work of trio \ DEF simply speaks to the power of dialogue, the possibilities inherent in stylistic cross-pollination, and the search for musical truth.
, All About Jazz
For more information, interview requests, and all other press inquiries, please contact: Wayne Eagles