In the crystalline world of Casey Golden‘s music, evolution has been at work, as it inevitably must in any viable ecosystem.
The new work, an EP made of the four-part Miniature has built on Golden’s previous work, markedly 2105’s Outliers, which consolidated the Trio’s sound, vision and mission statement brilliantly. (Check also Outliers’ little sister album Live at Bennett’s Lane).
Everything good and great about the Trio is still there. Golden’s compositions still blur beautifully between ensemble and improvisation, a vision virtually impossible to achieve without more than a touch of telepathy and players as empathic and creative as Ed Rodrigues on drums and bassist Bill Williams. The writing has not lost its nods to minimalism, Prog rock, post-rock and European classical flavours (contrapuntal bebop anyone?).
It sounds odd, and yet one of the most attractive attributes of Golden’s music is its un-jazzness. And the new work takes this further into new timbres.
Miniature brings in the new sounds of synth and guitar (courtesy of guest Daniel Walsh). They are used sparingly and to great effect – the ‘classic/classical’ spine of the band’s piano trio character is not bruised at all, just gently shaded here, lit with a little rose or green there.
Opening movement of the Miniature suite – ‘I’ – has guitar over its tricksy timing, rising and falling and oddly bringing to mind ‘acoustic electronica’. Its synth coda does not jar at all, but seems to be as logical as anything else in this movement.
‘II’ begins with an echo of one of the themes heard intertwining through the suite, before a completely absorbing (how rare they are) Bill Williams bass solo.
The third movement is ‘Interlude’. It takes another tack on timbre – the Bach-like piano lines sound dried-out, as if coming from a phone recording. This moves into a watery synth passage – as if listened to under water. The effect is magical – as if this ‘Interlude’ between the first two and the final movements has truly suspended time.
‘III’, the final movement of Miniature has all the drama of a finale – except that drama is shaped through the lens of Golden’s compositional vision: so it has twists, turns, Zawinul-like suggestions of melody and then bursts of epic melody. The epic and the miniature, side by side, often one seen through the mirror of the other.
This is what sets Golden’s music apart from anything I can think of today. In my earlier review of Outliers I wrote “It is rare that a musical vision is so complete, and completely of its own world.” We are now seeing that world evolve – long may it do so.
Published June 2016 on australianjazz.net