New York-based ensemble Trio Caveat brings together bassist James Ilgenfritz, drummer John McLellan and saxophonist Jonathan Moritz. With a plethora of experience playing with each other and musicians such as Butch Morris, Tim Berne, Ken Vandermark and Eugene Chadbourne, the group’s aesthetic is a minimalist and inventive exploration of their instruments. A conventional reeds/bass/drums trio, this is not. Compliments is the group’s second disc, following their self-released An All Too Brief Silence Which Speaks Untold Volumes (2005). It consists of eight short tracks, each a different reflection of the holiday season. The combination of Ilgenfritz’s arco musings, McLellan’s frugal snare accents and Moritz’s woozy phrases is a challenging one, sure to reward that listener who is not afraid of the unfamiliar.
James Ilgenfritz is a Michigan native and earned a B.M. in Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation from the University of Michigan. He recently completed his Master’s at UCSD with Mark Dresser, and has also been taught by John Lindberg and Mark Helias. Besides Trio Caveat, he has working groups that include Lukas Ligeti and Eyal Mayoz (Hypercolor) as well as the Anagram Ensemble with Moritz, Nate Wooley and Joe Tomino. He has also played with Steve Swell, Chris Speed, Andrew D’Angelo, Mike Pride and Sarah Weaver, among others.
John McLellan was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and raised in Massachusetts; his resume is expansive and varied, including work with Joe and Mat Maneri, Roswell Rudd, Bern Nix, Roy Campbell, William Parker, Ken Vandermark, Denman Maroney, Ben Monder, and the Either/Orchestra. He has performed at festivals throughout the country, including the Newport Jazz Festival, the Iowa City Jazz Festival, and New York's Vision Festival. John‘s inventive drumming can be heard on his duo record with saxophonist Joe McPhee, Grand Marquis on Boxholder Records and Mat Maneri’s latest release on Thirsty Ear Records, Pentagon.
Jonathan Moritz was born in Iran and raised in California where he received his B.F.A. in music performance from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in 2000, studying with Charlie Haden and Vinny Golia. He began his studies at the Brussels Royal Conservatory of music in Belgium in 1995 and studied there 3 years. Currently a band director and general music teacher for children Pre-K through 5th grade at P.S. 215 in Gravesend, Brooklyn, Jonathan is a candidate for an M.A. in music education from Brooklyn College. He and his wife have created one of New York's most intimate and welcoming performance spaces, the Prospect Series, a house concert series featuring innovative improvisers, Persian stew and a diverse audience. This is his second release on KMB Jazz, the other being last year’s Doin’ It All For My Baby, the second release by Evil Eye, a group which he co-leads with drummer Mike Pride.
Praise for Trio Caveat’s previous release, An All Too Brief Silence Which Speaks Untold Volumes:
“As evidenced by his trio recording with saxophonist Jonathan Moritz and drummer John McLellan, Ilgenfritz has a rare sense of sparsity and silence without sacrificing the organic feeling of his playing. The whole trio, in fact, is deceptive in their structure and tonalities. Rather than playing for the irony or deconstruction, they play slow but wam music. McLellan can suggest speed while playing at a snail's pace and Moritz can invoke Sonny Rollins in a scattered phrase. The nine tracks are seemingly without theme or solo - certainly without rousing barnstorm - yet are enjoyably non-obtuse.”
-Kurt Gottschalk, All About Jazz
“Low dynamics, fragmented statements and unusual line combinations are the idea… but once your ears have adjusted, the slightly busier bassline with which Ilgenfritz starts “Which” will sound like something from James Brown. Trio Caveat have set for themselves a small but noble goal with the potential for profound results.”
-Pat Buzby, Signal To Noise
“Compared to Trio Caveat, the Jimmy Giuffre trio sounds like the Albert Ayler trio… requiring as much concentration and patience as late-period Morton Feldman… This disc is a gorgeous, challenging gift to fans of difficult jazz who want to dig deep into the raw building blocks of pulse and melody.”
-Michael Anton Parker, Downtown Music Gallery
“Bassist Ilgenfritz, saxist Moritz and John McLellan are an improvising ensemble dedicated to delicate interplay.”
-K. Leander Williams, Time Out New York
“Trio Caveat, however, focuses its energies on much more cautious, minimalist terrain. Composed of saxophonist Jonathan Moritz, bassist James Ilgenfritz (sic) and drummer John McLellan, Trio Caveat is a leaderless ensemble seeking the airy side of free improv. An All Too Brief Silence Which Speaks Untold Volumes, the group’s first release, explores the limits to which they can effectively use silence to create songs. Said silences are short and, thankfully, frequently interspersed with flourishes of notes, though no discernable melodies come through. Upon the first or second listen the music might seem frivolous, but the group’s restraint is its greatest asset.
Sure, they can honk and squonk, beat and wriggle, but Moritz’s light-hearted conversations with Inglefritz are surprisingly engaging. Texture and color are masterfully added like brushstrokes by McLellan’s sparing taps on the snare and cymbals, and occasional furious kick of the bass drum. Unlike other ensembles where the horn would take the lead, Trio Caveat assigns that role on the spur of the moment. They warn the listener that the spirit of free improv allows anyone to take a leading role at any given time -- or simultaneously.”
-Matt Merewitz, Pittsburgh CityPaper