Bill Carrothers - piano
Anton Denner - reeds
Bill Stewart - drums
Recorded at Sear Sound, NYC, 1993
Now Hear This - Minneapolis Tribune, April 12, 1996
Carrothers once was known as a ferocious hard-bopper. But since his return, he's matured into a more sensitive and innovative pianist, with increasingly classical overtones. "I can't do quick tempos for four hours a night like when I was 20," he said. "That's not where I am at now. The big turning point for me was when my girlfriend turned me onto Shirley Horn, who plays all her tempos really slow.... Learning that other side of playing slowly just opens your mind to so many possibilities. That's when I went from trying to impress people to really trying to move them." The trio plays whatever style the musicians wish: swinging numbers, gentler meditations, twisted show tunes and radically reinvented standards. And it has no bassist, which allows Carrothers a lot more harmonic space, while challenging the drummer and pianist to move the pieces in more creative ways. Stewart has "got great time, but he can play free with the best of them," Carrothers said. "He's got a great way of relating tension on drums, so things I try to do harmonically he can translate rhythmically. And he plays piano and writes well, too. But Anton's the glue of the group. He's so lyrical, and very romantic in his playing. Bill and I are a little edgier, but Anton brings it all together."
Beauty needn't be boring, and this formidable trio proves it. Stewart is considered one of the most creative young drummers in all of jazz, a non-conformist who can hold a groove, or remold it at will. Carrothers' great melodic and harmonic command allows him to expand tunes from within, rather than bending the pieces out of shape to prove a point. Likewise, Denner searches for the beauty inherent in a tune.
- Jim Meyer -
Live Music - The New Review Of Records
Bill Carrothers (piano), Anton Denner (alto sax), and Bill Stewart (drums) play in a harmonic style so extended and adventurous as to seem always on the verge of atonality, yet their music retains structure and grounding. Though this is a cooperative, and though Denner's pure singing tone and Stewart's off-kilter pointillism were excellent, the most exciting aspect was Carrothers' lushly tart reharmonizations of the Civil War tune "Tenting On The Old Campground." Elsewhere, he favored bass ostinatos, and dark, bell-like, brooding chords, like a cocktail pianist on ludes and LSD.
- Steve Holtje -
Review / Music - New York Times, April 29, 1993
The night properly took off with a trio called A Band In All Hope, featuring Bill Carrothers on piano, Anton Denner on saxophone and Bill Stewart on drums. They played an odd selection of songs - "Puttin' on the Ritz", "Tenting on the Old Campground", and "Little Melonae" - all of which had been totally reharmonized, with Mr. Carrothers' silvery chords providing a firm, modern base for the improvisations. Where most bassless trios function like groups missing a bassist, A Band In All Hope seemed complete, partly because of Mr. Carrothers' steady left hand and the intelligence of his harmonic choices.
- Peter Watrous -