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Contrabassist and composer anchors the inventive group Triogram

The special geometry created by a trio of musicians – such as Triogram – can take any conceivable shape defined by the musicians occupying the shape. It can be circular and thus create spiral whorls of music that defy the boundaries, or it could be triangular, conversing in a multifarious contrapuntal exchange in the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic realm. The music of this group may seem to start innocuously enough, but you will soon discover that it is not.

This is because Triogram comprises musicians – contrabassist and notional leader, Will Lyle, and his empathetic partners, pianist Bijan Taghavi and drummer Kofi Shepsu – who like to defy convention as they decide to bop and weave in and out of any shape that may constrain them. When this happens the impulse to let their intervallic inventions in time be propelled by what may be described in terms akin to a Kurt Gödel ω-consistent recursive axiomatic system or in terms Werner Heisenberg’s “Uncertainty Principle”. It is this provokes musical particles to collide in a powerful manner, to reinvent not only the shape of the trio’s musicianship but also affect the arithmetic and geometry of its music.

It is no surprise that the secret is out on the cover itself – a mobius-inspired shape that describes the group’s unique musical geometry. While not wishing to mislead with excessive praise [for Triogram], the manner in which these musicians read each other’s musical thoughts, divine each other’s conceptions and respond harmonically and rhythmically to the limitless possibilities of melodic invention, one is easily reminded of the best of both Jimmy Giuffre’s and Bill Evans’ trios. Both the aforementioned trios were wildly different in harmonic conception, but both Mr Giuffre and Mr Evans held court imperiously, yet granted dispensation for musicians to be as incendiary as they so desired when it came to freedom of invention. This approach to music fosters seamless interaction, a wide and glorious tonal palette of sound and colour, and naturally a fulness of tone that becomes simply irresistible.

Triogram is [l-r] Kofi Shepsu, Bijan Taghavi and Will Lyle
All musicians get ass much facetime as the music demands, and each musician seems to yield at just the right moment for thee other to shine. The surprises, when they come, are effective but discreet: a gamelan-like riff is [often] played as pizzicato harmonics [cue either one of the standards – Street of Dreams or How Deep is the Ocean? And Mr Taghavi shines here and Mr Shepsu grooves so ever masterfully in the pocket on the latter work]. The delicate curlicue of a bass line underpins what sounds like a Gaelic lament on Lalyc’s Groove and once the swing gets deeply groovy, Mr Lyle breaks out into one a momentous – and memorable – solo performance con arco, the delicacy and intensity of which is unmatched and will probably remain unmatched except by a contrabassist such as Avishai Cohen.

Meanwhile, if you should think that the drummer Mr Shepsu does not let it be known that he possesses both technique and bravura as a rhythmist, you need only follow his pyrotechnics on the following number Trap. Overall, this is a recording where musical design is sublime. Where textures are often spare, harmonies are rich, dramatic tension is high – not the least when one or the other musician cuts loose – I refer again to Mr Lyle and his pizzicato foray on Thank You – which is mostly why the distilled atmosphere and harmonic calligraphy reminds me of the derring-doo of both Mr Giuffre’s and Mr Evans’ best trios. The pressure is now on these musicians to exceed the high standard they’ve set with this recording.

Deo gratis…!

Music – 1: Esau; 2: Changes; 3: Street of Dreams; 4: Asojano; 5: Ezra; 6: Lalyc’s Groove; 7: Trap; 8: Thank You; 9: How Deep is the Ocean?

Musicians – Bijan Taghavi: piano; Will Lyle: contrabass; Kofi Shepsu: drums

Released – 2023
Label – Circle Theory Media [002]
Runtime – 43:52




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