It's been a long time coming, but the wait is worth the while: the Dan Tepfer Trio has followed up its award-winning debut release, Before the Storm, with the stunning Oxygen.
What's immediately apparent on this album is a band chemistry of the highest level, such as only a long-established group can achieve. The trio has been together since 2003, when they met in the halls of the New England Conservatory in Boston. Since then, they have toured through the US, Europe, Japan and Peru, spending countless hours learning to know each other. The experience shows.
Taken individually, the band members are distinguished musicians in their own right. Pianist/composer Dan Tepfer has played with jazz greats Lee Konitz and Steve Lacy and has recently won a number of competitions, including the first prize and the audience prize at the 2006 Montreux Solo Jazz Piano Competition. Bassist Jorge Roeder, originally from Peru, is the winner of the 2007 International Society of Bassists Jazz Competition. Drummer Richie Barshay has been playing with Herbie Hancock for the past four years, and has also recorded with Chick Corea.
OXYGEN is both explosive and introspective; it's food for the brain and the heart. Originals such as "Equivalence" and "Oxygen" stretch rhythmic and harmonic complexity to the cutting edge, yet they seem to effortlessly flow. The album's two ballads, "Sweet Talk" and "Not for Sissies", come across as muted cries, an exploration of bleak emotional territory. Yet it's the album's covers that most reveal the trio's unbridled creativity. You will never have heard John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" or Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" played like this before.