"Changing the sound and expectation of a jazz piano trio." - John Schaefer, WNYC's New Sounds
"Mr. Fox's sound - his group's sound - is complete within itself and not in a hurry; it's cool but not modish." - Ben Ratliff, The New York Times
"Its music pulses with humanity and warmth." - Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader
CD Release Concert January 22 at Mezzrow, NYC
Formed in 2008, the Danny Fox Trio, featuring pianist Danny Fox, bassist Chris van Voorst van Beest, and drummer Max Goldman, is a true working band. Whether holed up in a Brooklyn basement rehearsing or touring around the country crammed into a sedan, the trio has spent countless hours developing a rapport that's immediately palpable in their music.
Though rooted in jazz, the three versatile musicians are also active in chamber music, bluegrass, electro, and New Orleans rhythm and blues, thereby giving the band a sound that is all-encompassing yet strikingly individual. Having committed these intricate and challenging compositions to memory and performed them scores of times, the influence and aesthetic of rock bands is readily appreciated.
The trio explores a wide range of novel techniques to eschew standard forms and roles. The piano, typically both the lead melodic and harmonic voice, rarely performs these two roles simultaneously. Instead, Fox opts for textures that feature the abilities of his bandmates and explore the more extreme ranges of the piano. In addition to fulfilling the traditional role as rhythmic anchor, bassist van Voorst van Beest provides melodies, counterpoint, and coloristic arco effects adeptly. Goldman employs traditional drumbeats effectively, but often opts for a more orchestral approach, mimicking symphonic playing.
The ten pieces on The Great Nostalgist navigate through a vast array of grooves, harmonies, time signatures, tempo shifts, free improvisations, and dynamics while always remaining grounded in the thematic material, giving the music a seamlessness and cohesion that make it both challenging and highly listenable.
"Jewish Cowboy (the Real Josh Geller)" summons Fox's love for minor-key country tunes, tapping into one of his earliest influences: the bluegrass of artists such as Doc Watson that his parents would play on car trips. The ominous bass chords of the middle section evoke a dusty mountain range before the spirited hootenanny-like group improvisation closes the song. The first of two ice cream themed titles, "Cookie Puss Prize," named for the Carvel mascot Fox won in a fifth grade ice cream eating competition, begins with a swirling contrapuntal duet between the piano and bass before the drums sneak in with a bouncy polyrhythmic Afro-Cuban groove. "Truant" was composed in short bursts in the practice rooms of Harvard University amidst repeatedly being kicked out by a dour front desk attendant. The piece scrambles frantically with tumbling piano/bass melodies giving way to momentary respites of calm. The lone solo piano piece of the album, "Caterpillar Serenade" could be the underscoring for a movie trailer and flashes back to an early family home movie where Fox's brother sings him a happy first birthday on a caterpillar-shaped accordion. "Preamble" begins with two short improvised piano and bass sections, each set against an off-kilter ostinato. A similar figure resurfaces where the drums improvise over the squirrely, record-skipping rhythm. Named for an impossibly neon green ice cream treat from the 80s, "Fat Frog" is a nostalgic, old-timey piece with an intro that conjures a theater curtain rising up. The hopeful opening notes are quickly hijacked into darker terrain as the melody careens along a windy, breakneck path. "Emotional Baggage Carousel," conceived at JFK Airport Terminal 4, explores themes of sentimentality and longing alongside a Rocky-like optimism (for receiving your luggage?). Purely by coincidence, The Great Nostalgist closes in the same manner as the group's second album Wide Eyed: with a song inspired by laundry. "Old Wash World," an imagining of an earlier, simpler time at Fox's local laundromat New Wash World, builds a boisterous yet sinister dance party on a simple piano riff mined from a long-ignored voice memo.
The Great Nostalgist is also a reunion of pianist Fox with recording/mixing engineer Tyler Wood, who recorded the first music Fox ever wrote while the two were at Harvard University in 2002.
Born in Pownal, Maine, bassist Chris van Voorst van Beest has been an in-demand presence on the New York music scene since moving to Brooklyn in 2005. Chris received his bachelor's degree at the University of New Hampshire and a Master's degree in composition at City College of New York, where he studied with Pulitzer-Prize winning composer David Del Tredici. Known for his big sound, lyrical bass lines, and versatility in different musical settings including jazz, rock, contemporary classical, and bluegrass, Chris performs regularly around New York City with a wide variety of jazz, chamber, and new music groups. He tours frequently to Europe, having performed extensively in the Czech Republic, Spain, Turkey and Italy. An emerging composer, Chris is the founder of the chamber music project Hear + Now which features his original compositions for ensembles of various sizes. His most recent work Het Glazen Herenhuis, a sonnet for piano, cello and clarinet, was premiered in Brooklyn in July of 2017. Chris was a nominee for the 2016 Charles Ives Arts and Letters award. In 2009 Chris was awarded a grant to compose the original score for the children's book "The Lamplighter," featuring narration by noted folk artist Sam Amidon.
Born in Rochester, NY, drummer Max Goldman was fortunate to study under local greats Jeff Lewis, Steve Curry and Rich Thompson. He moved to New York City in 2001, attending NYU and the New School, where he studied with Tony Moreno, Gerald Cleaver and Kenny Washington. Since graduating in 2006, Max has been active in Brooklyn's fertile creative scene. He spends much of his time touring Europe, South America, the US, and Canada with a diverse lineup of artists. In addition to the Danny Fox Trio, Max has performed and recorded with Becca Stevens, Tim Berne, The Elan Mehler Group, Old Time Musketry, Midnight Magic, Nomi Ruiz, and Eleanor Friedberger. He has been called "a seriously propulsive force" by the Chicago Reader and his drumming has been described as "beautifully melodic, even pianistic" by the New York Jazz Review.