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New Power Trio

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The term "power trio" first referred to those lean, mean rock machines of the 60s and 70s, and even when it made its way to jazz (usually to describe a pianoless trio of sax, bass, and drums) it retained the implication of impolite strength, if not actual malice. The New Power Trio displays some measure of sinew, particularly in John Crooks's bass solos, but otherwise the name's a bit misleading. The NPT has a keyboardist, and it owes more to tasteful trendsetters of the 50s like the Modern Jazz Quartet and Erroll Garner's trios than to any of jazz's bad boys. On its new second disc, Echo Park (available only through on-line music retailers), the trio's fondness for Latin-American rhythms distinguishes it from most mainstream outfits, as do the idiosyncrasies of percussionist Mark Suter. Also a member of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project, Suter forgoes standard traps in favor of a jumble of cymbals, timbales, and congas, so even in those fleeting moments when he plays a straight four-four, the beat seems lithe and exotic. Pianist and organist Nate Shaw first showed up on disc with the Motion Poets (originally the Little Big Band), out of Minneapolis. He stood out in that group for the same attributes he brings to the NPT: a crisp, light attack, clear, clean ideas, and an aversion to formula. Echo Park intersperses the trio's originals with some surprising ringers, such as a tune by Malian star Oumou Sangare, the nostalgically familiar "Siboney," by early-20th-century Cuban bandleader Ernesto Lecuona, and Stevie Wonder's "Summer Soft," whose characteristic Spanish tinge is coaxed to the fore. Saturday, September 21, 8:30 PM, Pete Miller's Steakhouse, 1557 Sherman, Evanston; 847-328-0399. Sunday, September 22, 8 PM, Green Dolphin Street, 2200 N. Ashland; 773-395-0066.

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