If at first it seems odd to listen to a disc that has neither the benefit of a contrabass nor a tuba to hold up the bottom end of the musical scale, but relies upon the bass drum to do that, all raised eyebrows are soon lowered when this threesome gets to Monk’s Dream. It is then that Jim Doxas comes into his own not only as a drummer who is doing the rhythmist’s job all on his own, but is actually playing the role of a percussion colourist and the third melodist of the band.
Ensembles that are as free-flowing as 3Rio often tend to be reminiscent of the many unpredictable musical journeys that Jimmy Giuffre’s duo and trio might take. However Doxas, Alexandre Côté and Gary Schwartz make everything from written counterpoint (You Stepped Out of a Dream) to classic improvisation (Monk’s Dream), and free form – or formless – improvisation (Bridge 1-6) sound shockingly unexpected and fresher than music from other improvising groups.
Warm, sliding chords (Bridge 3) reveal an elegant structural sense on the part of guitarist Schwartz, even without text. This is easily carried over by Schwartz into his poetic waltz-time The Cove, an obliquely tonal homage to the instrument he plays so well. Côté responds beautifully on the tenor saxophone. Côté plays with brilliant focus and timbral variety always staying just long enough to charm and dazzle the senses helping weave the magical threads into an enigmatic musical fabric.