“There is no hurry to this music, but there is great depth,” observed London Jazz News about Danish guitarist Jakob Bro’s trio with two kindred-spirit Americans: bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Joey Baron. This poetically attuned group follows its ECM studio album of 2016, Streams – which The New York Times lauded as “ravishing” – with what Bro calls “a dream come true,” an album recorded live in New York City, over two nights at the Jazz Standard. Bay of Rainbows rolls on waves of contemplative emotion, with gradually enveloping lyricism the lodestar. The three musicians explore five pieces from the guitarist’s catalog, with the gorgeous “Copenhagen” a favorite reprised from Gefion, Bro’s 2015 ECM release with Morgan and drummer Jon Christensen. Others – “Evening Song,” “Red Hook” and the volatile “Dug” – are recast intimately and elastically for trio after having been initially documented by larger ensembles. Bookending Bay of Rainbows are two versions of the richly melodic “Mild,” the abstracted second rendering illustrative of Bro and company’s ability to push and pull the music into mesmerizing new shapes, onstage and in the moment.
Jakob Bro: guitar
Thomas Morgan: double bass
Joey Baron: drums
Jakob Bro’s trio with two kindred-spirit Americans, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Joey Baron, follows its 2016 album Streams with an album recorded live in New York City over two nights at the Jazz Standard. Bay of Rainbows rolls on waves of contemplative emotion, with a gradually enveloping lyricism the lodestar. The three musicians explore five pieces from the guitarist’s catalog, including “Copenhagen” a favorite reprised from Gefion, Bro’s 2015 ECM album with Morgan and drummer Jon Christensen. Bookending the new recording are two versions of the richly melodic “Mild,” the abstracted second rendering illustrative of Bro and company’s ability to push and pull the music into mesmerizing new shapes, onstage and in the moment.
The 40-year-old Bro – whose initial ECM appearances were on Paul Motian’s Garden of Eden and Tomasz Stanko’s Dark Eyes – just this past spring released his third studio album on the label as a leader: Returnings, which featured the guitarist in league with Morgan, Christensen and trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg. In its review of that disc, DownBeat praised Bro for creating “sound paintings of depth, warmth and beauty.” These words apply just as well to Bay of Rainbows, along with an added degree of spontaneous dynamism – as Bro’s partnership with Morgan and Baron has only deepened after five years of touring far and wide. The guitarist says: “This trio has played ‘Evening Song’ – an older tune of mine that I’ve done multiple ways already – hundreds of times, night after night, city after city, in different kinds of rooms in front of different sorts of audiences. So, the piece keeps evolving, and surprising me.”
A prime example of how Bro, Morgan and Baron can morph a song from night to night comes with the two disparate versions of “Mild” on Bay of Rainbows. “It may sound strange to people, but the three of us never talk about the music, not even discussion of intros or outros, or where solos should be,” the guitarist explains. “It all happens on the bandstand. We have this shared desire to really listen to each other, to let the music breathe as we see where we can go moment to moment. Thomas might start something off, and Joey will react – and then when I come in, I have to adapt the way I play the song in order to respond to what they’re doing. Sometimes, the nights feel like one long improvisation.”
The title of Bay of Rainbows refers to a humorous gift given to Bro’s baby daughter by his brother-in-law: a deed for a plot of land called Sinus Iridum (Bay of Rainbows), which is on the moon. “It’s a poetic phrase and one I thought was evocative”, the guitarist explains. One track on the album, “Red Hook,” comes from Bro’s past life, as a young striver trying to learn the jazz ropes in New York City. “It was originally titled ‘Red Hook Railroad,’ because I was living in a ‘railroad’ apartment in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn at the time, sharing the place with bassist Ben Street and, sometimes, saxophonist Mark Turner. That was such an intense period for me, learning so much from these great New York musicians. To record a live album all these years later in the place where so many artists I admire live, a city with such a rich musical history, is very special for me.”
Tickets: $22 in advance/$25 at door/$10 full-time student with ID