Garden District Trio – Upward (2019)

Garden District Trio - Upward (2019)
Artist: Garden District Trio
Album: Upward
Genre: Contemporary Jazz
Origin: USA
Released: 2019
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
It’s so Clear to Me
Pink Sky
You Are the One
Love for You
My Sons
Mardi Gras Day


Garden District Trio have been performing for 12 years at Houston’s Restaurant in New Orleans. This month saw the release of their long-overdue album Upward. Overdue? Well, yes.

Band leader David Hansen previously suffered a very lengthy writer’s block. Although the band members recorded covers, Upward follows 25 years of stuffing a file with partial attempts at original music.

“This writing journey has been long and frustrating, yet intriguing,” Hansen says, “and the outcome has been worth the wait. I wish it could have clicked a quarter-century ago, but it wasn’t the right time. I didn’t understand how to transfer my inspirational moments onto paper. Partial written melodies, different composition methods and a few pinnacle events all lined up – and then it happened for one song. A second attempt, and it worked! Third time was lucky and then a few months later four more came along quite quickly with another written the day before going into the studio.”

Recorded at Louisiana’s Studio in the Country, Upward features producer Hansen on drums, Jordan Baker on piano and Brian Quezergue on bass. But the songs, so long in gestation, often take center stage.

“The nuances, sound and timbre of a jazz trio is one of the most impressive musical combinations,” David Hansen continues. “Our songs surpass language and can be communicated to or by anyone worldwide. I realized this when friends in Mexico, Japan and Italy who do not speak English but who are accomplished musicians communicated that they truly love this album and want the sheet music to perform.”

“Jump” opens Upward and is an enjoyable listen. with strong bass line working its way right through along with some nifty piano lines playing a strong theme that takes an easy, rolling walk with a heavy down-tread style. Meanwhile, the bass solo provided a more than pleasant interlude at the middle section. The recurrent theme keeps the track moving forward. This is tight and well produced. “It’s So Clear To Me” is easy, gentle and based around a well-rounded theme which develops some lovely character as it rides along, supported well by the bass and drums.

“Whistler” is introduced by a catchy bass line, over which drums intercept and reactively take this forward. The piano backs up the pair with some intriguing and interesting lines, while the theme is developed on piano, but it is the bass line which grabs attention right through this number. “Pink Sky” is opened with drums, and then piano and bass lead with drums now as support, typical of a good interacting trio working out their sounds. It’s enjoyable, bouncy and features some good rhythm exchanges between bass and piano lines. This track is built on New Orleans rhythms and syncopation and evokes a lot of good feelings.

“You Are the One” is really cool, laid back and snazzy, and the piano does some very interesting things with its top lines. The interaction between the walking bass and piano theme is wonderful, and this pushes on right from the start. The bass-over-drums section is lovely and makes a great interest-adding contrast to the depth-heavy rest of the track – and the drums solo is well delivered, as well.

“Love For You” is gentle with piano and drums opening, before soft bass emphasizes the key of the piano, which then leaves to air some beautiful themes of its own across the top line. This improves much once the brushes fade out and percussive decisions are created under the tinkling piano line and solid bass. The emphasis, complexity and intensity increases as this track develops.

“My Sons” is joyful, warm and sets up with a Latin beat, underpinned by the of beat emphasis on drums and piano. This track is in turns, rolling, happy and energetic, and includes a stellar drums solo. The concluding “Mardi Gras Day” kicks off with a great New Orleans rhythm, walking like a parade, first and then second line (plus pedals). It’s a lovely, tight number to close things out, with some good heavy beats from the drums.

The Garden District Trio’s Upward is interesting because there are references to many genres, but the overriding emphasis is on the beats of NOLA, currently in vogue and with this trio, expertly delivered. It’s interactive, foot moving and very listenable.
by Sammy Stein

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