2. Rooster was a Witness
3. Distance by Clockwork
5. Hug the Greyhound
6. Box Lily
7. How Do We Catch Up
8. Hope Machine
11. The Face of Mount Molehill
12. She Eats Flies
Neil Cowley - Piano
Rex Horan - Bass
Evan Jenkins - Drums
Julian Ferraretto, Miles Brett - Violins
Alex Eichenberger - Cello
Helen Sanders-Hewett - Viola
Recorded live on July 11th, 2012 at the Miles Davis Hall, Montreux, Switzerland.
In an amusing and informative sleeve-note, Neil Cowley explains that the band arrived in Montreux in a state of `beaten-upness' after dealing with the frustrations of lost luggage and the unpleasantness of a nausea bug. Happily, they were immediately calmed by the magnificent view across the lake and the relaxed efficiency of the jazz festival staff.
The Cowley band had just released their successful fourth studio album, The Face of Mount Molehill, and eight tracks from that CD are played on this live recording. With no time restraints imposed on them, they were allowed to stretch out and play for as long as they wished. The result is one of the most enjoyable live recordings I've heard in a long time.
The opening track, a restrained and haunting solo piece, Lament, gives no hint of the energy and exuberance of the music that surges off every succeeding track. All the tunes are Cowley originals (except Meyer which is credited to the trio as a whole) and bear the same hallmark of an instantly attractive melodic hook and irresistibly compelling rhythmic patterns. Cowley, Horan and Jenkins have played together for so long that their empathy is telepathic, but the bonus of a string quartet on the majority of the tracks lends added dimensions of harmonic depth and inspiration.
I was reminded at times of Brad Mehldau's trio, the late lamented Esbjorn Svensson and, dare I say it, Jerry Lee Lewis! I would find it hard to believe, on the evidence of the storming keyboard assaults on the final two tracks, that Cowley, despite being classically-trained, was not inspired by the veteran rocker! Not that Cowley is incapable of the need for rhythmic contrast and reflection as evidenced by the luscious upper-register traceries on Box Lily. But it's his powerful left hand that dominates with a boisterous brio that's irresistible.
I simply can't stop playing this exhilarating CD. Thank heavens for the wonderful view across the lake at Montreux!