Wilf's- Sat. April 8th, 2006
Upper Left Trio
Clay Giberson - Piano
Jeff Leonard - Electric five-string bass
Charlie Doggett - Drums
Most will know that Wilf's is an elegant restaurant and lounge attached to Union Station in downtown Portland, featuring excellent food and wonderful jazz. The atmosphere is decidedly cool and relaxing, and the music on this night matched the surroundings perfectly.
The UL3 is a highly rehearsed and tight trio, with many new compositions, some standards, all very fresh sounding. The ethic reminds me of the ECM label, and there were many shades of Keith Jarrett.
These guys are so together, so listenable, and engaging. The rhythmic and harmonic complexities kept my attention, and the use of unison passages were frequent and displayed the deep bond between bassist Leonard and pianist Giberson. It seems that all three are composing, and the democratic ethic runs through the entire work. One piece was in an odd meter, tricky and upbeat in mood, with an amazing piano solo. Very Bluesy. Didn't get the title.
Most of these compositions have odd meters, but with straight ahead structures, a traditional walking bass line groove and democratic solo sequences. Very fine playing in all three corners. Clay uses a number of complex chords which are fascinating to hear, and it makes me wonder if he isn't saying, "Have you heard this one?"
Jeff Leonard is very joyful and articulate in his approach to the electric bass. At the break, he talked at length about his two instruments, having found a craftsman who had a unique and acoustic sounding electric bass...very enjoyable to listen to.
Charlie is a very strong player as well, and his solos stop you in your tracks. Not bombastic, or showy, instead, thought provoking and emotionally expressive. Very fine!
I have heard these guys before and they do put on a good show. Playful and easy going, they are on their way to a long professional career together. I hope they get some national attention soon.
Their website is http://www.claygiberson.com/. You can e-mail here. They also have a new recording on Origin Arts Records, out of Seattle, and they are members of the new networking initiative, Sonicbids.
Here's Tim Duroche's take on this band. "Upper Left Trio has a highly developed chemistry and gorgeous seesaw sense of introspection and jazz-deviancy...the trio breathes fresh life into the standard jazz piano trio format." -Tim Duroche, WIllamette Week
Clay Giberson was JSO's Featured Musician of the Month April, 2005.