28 cd rev  1

Matt Slocum Sanctuary (Sunnyside Records)

Jazz composer/drummer Matt Slocum used guitarist Steve Cardenas and saxophonist Dayna Stephens on his last outing, 2016’s Trio Pacific, Vol. 1, but he comes back to his core piano-trio form for Sanctuary, his fifth album as leader. He works with his longtime pianist, Gerald Clayton, and the esteemed bassist Larry Grenadier, replacing the arguably less emphatic Massimo Biolcati, who played double bass on Slocum’s first three albums. The program begins with the beautiful, sad Sufjan Stevens song “Romulus,” enlivened by Grenadier’s solid, inventive bass lines and Clayton’s fabulous work on the keys. Then the band really takes off, Slocum’s kinetic drum work sets the tone for the heady, loose “Consolation Prize.” Spare, ethereal piano opens “Aspen Islands,” a song based on a Chopin prelude. After the impressionistic interlude of “A Dissolving Alliance” comes the title track, featuring Clayton’s quietly complex piano. The drummer is masterful but restrained until the last, on “Anselmo.” While Grenadier generates some gripping, knotty bass work, Slocum gets a more demonstrative, exciting jungle-vibe going on the tom-toms. “You can practice for hours, months, years before the session,” Slocum said in the liner notes, “but at the end of the day, it depends on what the other musicians do — and if you want to let them be themselves, you have to be open in that moment.” 

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