Ernie Krivda's (b.1945, Cleveland, OH) first recording in a trio setting was in 1995; it was also his debut on the CIMP label and one of our first releases (Sarah's Theme, CIMP 102). Now, 12 years later, he returns to The Spirit Room to make his second trio recording (his first with bass and drums), this time with Peter Dominguez (b. 1956, Milwaukee, WI) and Ron Godale (b.1956, Cleveland, OH). Ernie's plan (yes, Ernie always has a plan) was to "...play eight compositions with the trio." I pointed out to Ernie that this would suggest an uncharacteristic overall brevity, for, in his small combos it's not unusual for Ernie to stretch out for 10 to 20 minutes over a tune. But then Ernie has a lot to say, verbally and musically, and in the latter case has both the chops and imagination to again and again essay brilliance of statement. There is often a connectedness evident in the body of Ernie's work, both in referencing material over long periods of time and in drawing from a group of artists, some of whom may have a history with Ernie that goes back decades. While Ernie continues to work with the trio members from 1995 (Bob Fraser, g; Jeff Halsey, b), he also brings new players whoimpress him and meet his demands (and Ernie does demand musical intelligence and ability). In this case he reunites with Ron Godale, (who was on Ernie's third and last InnerCity date : The Glory Strut), and brings aboard Peter Dominguez, currently Professor of Bass at Oberlin College, has worked with Ernie since around 2002, and who, Ernie says, is "both a terrific Jazz and orchestral player." In addition to their work with Ernie, both Ron and Peter have worked together in the Ohio area for a number of years.
A week before the recording, the trio had worked a number of gigs in theCleveland area and then, on June 20th, the trio "moseyed" (to use Ernie's word) in to Rossie, NY, from Cleveland, did a sound check, ate, drank, and grew weary.
This recording session got off to an early start (9:30 a.m.) the next morning. Ernie opened with a rather understated Blue Hokum, followed by some tweaking of the (audio) positioning and some attempts at Porter's Riddle. As on Blue Hokum, a reserve seemed to stand between the individual parts, preventing everything from coming together. A number of incomplete and so-so takes followed, along with some suggestions and analytical thoughts. The cobwebs began to clear, the malaise fell away, and some good healthy agitation brought some edge and glow to the morning's later proceedings along with a solid take of Passing Beauty.
When we reassembled after a short break around noon, the group had reached an apparent level of comfort with both their surroundings and each other and had fallen back into the confidence they, as a unit, had established over the years. Ernie now introduced Song of Aragon, a beautiful, multidimensional and episodic composition written specifically for this session. A piece that should become a staple of the Ernie Krivda songbook.
We broke again in the early afternoon and, after getting past what Peter called the "food coma" of too much lunch, completed Considered Revisions, another new original bearing the Krivda trademark swirling designs, thematic emotions, and abrupt ending. This was immediately followed by a spirited reading of Frankie's On the Floor (which, along with Blue Hokum, Beauty Passing, and The Jerry Turn, was previously recorded by Ernie's sextet [Cadence Jazz 1154] and/or quintet [CIMP 293]), a nice, mildly funky piece with Ernie affecting a bit of a 2-tenor battle. The group continued to hit its mark by following up with Tzigine, last recorded by Ernie in 1978. All this reminds me that Ernie's body of work (both composition and attack) has long been defined and consistent. One last effort before the break for supper accomplished a success on Blue Hokum.
The evening set was utilized to readdress Porter's Riddle and Tzigine. While we already had fine takes of both pieces, it is Ernie's practice to do multiple takes (even when its felt none are needed) in order to give the producer some choice.
The rhythm section on this recording is stellar, as it would have to be to execute the shifts and twists of Ernie's music. And it should be noted that it was Ron's choice not to solo, even though he was encouraged otherwise. There are many moments of rhythmic brilliance throughout this CD, but one particular moment I found most intriguing was during the bass and drum exchange on Song of Aragon.
Over the 12 hours of this session, Ernie, Ron, and Peter offered me some fine choices. These are my picks —choice cuts all.
Robert D. Rusch - June 21, 2007