Monday, January 9, 2017

Yago Vázquez, Scott Lee & Jeff Hirshfield - Second Stream (FRESH SOUND NEW TALENT 2016)

It is commonplace to describe many of today's jazz musicians as "sharp-eared," "having lightning reflexes," or "uncanny musical ESP" and this is many times true even for one-off gigs.

As new generations of performers and composers mature in front of our eyes and ears, the level of musicianship continues to rise to astounding levels. New recordings constantly surprise with modes of expression that feel completely natural while being fresh and new.

Despite so much good music appearing almost daily, the trio that is Stream -pianist Yago Vazquez, bassist Scott Lee and drummer Jeff Hirshfield- must be placed in the highest echelon of such groups.

Their music combines the qualities of depth with lyricism, intensity with calm assurance and an elastic, yet sure handed rhythmic sense. Stream's hallmark sound is one of graceful chamber jazz, which nevertheless, has a taught core.

The qualities that each player brings to whatever group in which they find themselves are perfectly balanced when brought together in Stream. Lee and Hirshfield, having played together for a long time, have now almost become one. As Hirshfield's delicate, yet insistent cymbals fill the sound space, Lee's bass lines simultaneously provide the bottom and counterpoint to Vazquez's piano. This supple and responsive "rhythm section" gives the younger Vazquez not only the freedom to lead, knowing Lee and Hirshfield will follow, but also the room to step back and provide accompaniment.

The music presented in Second Stream has many intertwining levels, and can be listened to in a number of ways; the most appropriate being with one's full attention, letting this master session weave its spell. -Budd Kopman

01. Passing By (Vázquez) 4:28
02. Cue Ball (Lee) 6:24
03. Gratitude (Lee) 7:01
04. Suyai (Vázquez) 4:18
05. As If (Vázquez-Lee-Hirshfield) 4:07
06. Displaced (Lee) 6:34
07. Haze (Vázquez) 5:58
08. I’m Pretty Sure I’m Right...Dear (Vázquez-Lee-Hirshfield) 2:43
09. Song for Pedro (Vázquez) 5:39
10. Basses Loaded (Lee) 10:29
11. Seeing Through (Vázquez-Lee-Hirshfield) 5:29

Yago Vázquez (piano)
Scott Lee (double bass)
Jeff Hirshfield (drums)

Recorded at Systems Two Studios, Brooklyn, New York, on May 12, 2016

Engineered by Mike Marciano
Mixed and Mastered by Katsuhiko Naito at Avatar Studios, New York City.

Cover photo: Sandra Blach. 
Photography: Deborah Feingold
Inside liner notes by Budd Kopman

Produced by Yago Vázquez, Scott Lee & Jeff Hirshfield
Executive producer: Jordi Pujol