“Stream” (composed by Vázquez) leads off the album with a solo piano introduction to be quickly joined by Lee and Hirshfield in a sweet and swinging number. It is touched with sometimes eddying, now flowing, now rushing fluidity that gives evidence of the song’s title. This is a great lead-off piece.
“On Your Own” (Lee) is a lyrical and lovely piece. Hirshfield’s brushwork is a smooth backdrop to the moving bass of Lee. The piano is lush and thoughtful.
“F World” is another Scott Lee composition. The change-up rhythms and chords are bright and attractive. Vázquez is a gifted, percussive pianist as shown when Lee takes off on his bass solos. Naito’s mastering is especially lively on this track and he separates the sounds so distinctly but still maintaining the oneness of the artists.
“Nocturno” is a beautifully done composition by Vázquez. The coolness of the night and the warmth of the company are painted so well by the trio. It is reflective of companionship and poise. It sings of reflection and memory and draws the listener along as if being led in a dance.
“456” (Lee) has a strident pace set by the trio. Vázquez walks off on a determined side-street until reset by Lee’s bass. Hirshfield keeps the movement steady as Vázquez and Lee venture afield.
“Blue Country” (Lee) gets a bowed bass introduction that gives Lee the full spotlight at centerstage. Vázquez and Hirshfield slowly meld into the bass movement. The bluesy bass and the jazzy are in fine dialogue here. The long-lasting cymbal crashes are like waves coming ashore into this blue country.
“Same but Different” (Lee) gets off to a full-trio swinging start from the opening. Vázquez and Lee are delightful in their jauntiness. This is an optimistic piece that brings (and keeps) the smile on your face.
“Miniatura” (Vázquez) has a haunting quality to the opening which is embodied by all three of the artists. The mood shifts to a wistfulness and longing. Lee offers up a touching double bass solo with bow as Vázquez and Hirshfield carry on softly beneath.
There are moments of exquisite delicacy here that are warm and sweet. The haunting motif returns to carry out the piece. This was beautiful.
“New Old” (Lee) is a cool bit of swing. Scott Lee has repeatedly shown his compositional skills on this album and Vázquez and Hirshfield beautifully execute what Lee has crafted.
“Times Square” is the brainchild of the trio. Lee starts off with a fantastic bowed bass in double-time. The piano seamlessly blends in and, for a moment, it is difficult to separate bass from piano. Vázquez moves into a bit of odd-tempo improv with Hirshfield in free form. This was like an Escher print.
“Missing One” (Lee) returns to a more structured setting. Again the trio take on a cool interplay that is worthy of attention. By this point in the album, it becomes clear that Stream is a trio who deserve each other—and I mean that in a good way. There is a grand understanding between them and it contributes to a remarkable union.
“Brake Tune” is also by Scott Lee. The upbeat time and the cheerful chords with the melodic lines of Vázquez are sunny and wide-eyed. Lee’s bass solo is just as much fun as Hirshfield’s ride cymbal keeps the energy up.
“NoWhere” (Lee) carries a feeling of lostness and the title might imply. It is not the “No Place” as suggested by the word Utopia but the emptiness of a place unknown and perhaps unbeloved. There is a discernable melancholy and a longing to be somewhere else. Vázquez plays beautifully, sweet and sad.
“The Cloisters” is another collective piece of the trio. It is a splendid end to a wonderful album. The crossing lines of melody between piano and bass are lush and colorful. The album ends softly, as a whisper.
Stream is a trio worth hearing. The interaction of the artists is as if they are connected at the heart. “Stream”—the debut album—is a work of great grace and beauty. If this is the shape of things to come, there are good days ahead.
Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl
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