Album: Song for Sophia
Artist: PD3 (Pete Downes Trio)
Review by Bob Bevan-Jones
“Song For Sophia” is the welcome new album from PD3, the trio led by master guitarist Pete Downes. The first thing to strike me about this album is its freshness: for sure, the three talented members of PD3 tell you clearly through their music that they still enjoy playing together. The second thing is the range of musical styles the band has sought to address for thisalbum: they conquer each one–a cumulative achievement that dawns gradually on the attentive listener.
Pete Downes is the composer of the majority of the tracks here, as on previous PD3 albums. His consummate compositional skill is exercised imaginatively, taken up by some exquisitely fluid guitar-work and rounded off by astute studio recording/mixing/production. But despite wearing these three hats, Pete is no egotist: he gives his skills generously when the music is not his, for instance on Andy Coe’s “Jaxi Taxi”. Andy Coe is the bassist in PD3, and a jewel. His playing is as sharp and solid as a diamond; and he makes it twinkle from time to time. He shines when he’s given a solo; and he sparkles on his own track.
Tim Bruce, the PD3 drummer, has an unerring sense of what the right lick is and when to bring it in. Pete’s stylistic experiments place more demands on Tim than on Andy, and he rises superbly to each challenge. On past albums, Pete Downes has presented highly individual yet sympathetic takes on classical themes ranging from Beethoven to Satie. For this album, Pete gives a delightful and beautiful version of JS Bach’s “Partita In E”, a certain crowd-pleaser.
I warmly recommend this album to all discerning and unprejudiced music-lovers, whether jazz fanatics or not. PD3′s “Song For Sophia” will add spice to jaded musical palates. It can quench a thirst for inventive fusion. It delivers a slap-up 10-course banquet for those hungry to listen to intelligent instrumentals. I could come up with many more culinary allegories; but I’ll content myself simply by saying that this is an album of taste.
Bob Bevan-Jones 28 September 2011