Pianist Chris Donnelly, bassist Dan Fortin and drummer Ernesto Cervini are three of the top players in the Toronto jazz scene, and they all have strong musical personalities that they’ve deployed in a variety of settings. But, as in the case of many strong leaderless group, Myriad3 is more than the sum of its part. That seems to be literally true on the opening tune, “Myriad.” So full is the sound on this wonderfully asymmetrical composition by Fortin, it sounds like a five-piece band is playing it. The tune’s complexity serves nicely to announce that this will not be a standard jazz romp.
Each of the trio’s members showcase several challenging compositions. Among the strangest (and most beautiful) are “Disturbing Inspiration (Part I)” and “Disturbing Inspiration (Part 2)” by Cervini. You could ascribe the shifting time signatures in these pieces to Cervini’s expertise in percussion, but that would be too simplistic a way to appreciate these hauntingly melodic works.
Donnelly contributes four tunes, among them the Erik Satie-like “Drifters.” But just when his classical background seems to be poking through, the tune shifts into high gear with rock-like drumming and abstract melodic lines. It’s surprises like that that make every listen a new experience. Donnelly also contributes “Mr. Awkward,” a lively flight, journeying all the way back to barrelhouse piano. The album features only one cover, Duke Ellington’s “C Jam Blues.” With constant stops and starts, each section brings a new and fascinating interpolation of this deceptively simple tune.