Back in the 1990s, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, drummer Harvey Sorgen and bassist Steven Rust set in motion a trio project which would have them reassemle in a studio every year to improvise. The collaboration led to four albums: Novella (Leo, 2001), Aercine (Drimala, 2002), Decade (NotTwo, 2003), and now, A Scent in Motion.
Stevens, Sorgen and Rust have cast their roots as improvisers. All possess expressive intuition, allowing them to play off each other and work in tandem towards developing a concept with insight and imagination. They bring it to fruition both in the realm of a composition and in a completely improvised situation, as two of the selections—"Sentry" and "Camco"—convincingly show.
The melodically charged "Sentry" romps in on piano. Stevens lets the essence seep into his runs, with only an occasional emphasis on the chords and gentle shifts of pulse that add elegance to his playing. Cleaving to the piano on the ensemble passages, Sorgen and Rust move into hardier territory with their individual runs without losing the thread of forward movement and logic.
"Camco" is looser in its dynamic, and provides the logic abstract for the trio to feed on and interact. Motifs are created on the spur, with Rust and Sorgen initiating a dialogue. Stevens swells the context with rapid interjections of churning torrents and hammered notes that upend the initial quiet, interpolates blocks of thunderous chords and draws the rhythm section into the intensity.
Logic is a constant factor, even as they change the countenance of a song. Tension and slack, melody and atonality, suspension of time and the gathering of notes are lucid messengers that rise from the mainstream evocation of the lyrical "Fairy Tale" to the open ended interplay of "Cpac."
This music signals the potent force of Sorgen, Rust and Stevens.