Dan Cray Trio Recommended Soundboard

When: Mon., Sept. 22, 8 & 10 p.m. 2008

On the new Over Here Over Heard (Crawdad Productions), a live set recorded at Pops for Champagne last November, local pianist Dan Cray demonstrates the benefits of maintaining a single lineup for years. His muscular trio with bassist Clark Sommers and drummer Greg Wyser-Pratte is unflashy and down-to-earth, and the way it moves as a cohesive unit reminds me of early recordings by Ahmad Jamal and Ramsey Lewis—the solos never come off as displays of virtuosity that merely happen to occur near the rest of the band. But the real pleasures of Cray’s new album are the trio’s nonchalant rhythmic elasticity and keen harmonic empathy, which allow the group to streamline its thoroughly mainstream sound with a contemporary sense of economy. —Peter Margasak

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