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The Ron Thomas Trio: “Music In Three Parts”

(Art of Life AL1010-2)

Discography | MP3 Digital Downloads | About the Music | Liner Notes | Selected Quotations

The Ron Thomas Trio: "Music In Three Parts"

Ron Thomas: piano
Paul Klinefelter: acoustic bass
Joe Mullen: drums

CD $9.99
Limited Edition of 500 copies.

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Impromptu
(Listen with Real Audio: lo-fi)

Caprice
(Listen with Real Audio: lo-fi)

Impromptu 2
(Listen with Real Audio: lo-fi)

Caprice 2
(Listen with Real Audio: lo-fi)

Impromptu 3
(Listen with Real Audio: lo-fi)

Epilog
(Listen with Real Audio: lo-fi)

MP3 Digital Downloads {top}

About the Music {top}

Ron Thomas' newest project for Art of Life Records, "Music In Three Parts", was recorded on November 12, 2003 and features Paul Klinefelter on bass and Joe Mullen on drums. The pieces on "Music In Three Parts" are based on only three different simple musical figures. The three Impromptu's are based on a figure in D minor, the two Caprices on a figure in C major and the final Epilog on a figure in A flat major. The primary goal of "Music In Three Parts" is to achieve highly independent piano, bass and percussion parts (Polyphony) and complex ornamental (Melodic) expansions upon the simple thematic materials on which the improvisations are strictly based. All tracks have been professionally mastered using 24-bit digital technology.

Ron Thomas (b.1942) has a long association with the experimental musical tradition both as a Classical Composer and as a Jazz musician. His musical interests were nurtured by his mother Helen and his father "Buddy", a gifted amateur pianist and entertainer. Ron was attracted to both the Classical Music and the Jazz that he heard growing up at home and eventually became a Classical Composer and a Jazz pianist. He has a Master's degree in Composition and has enjoyed the friendship and counsel of such well-known musicians as John Cage and Herbie Hancock. In 1972 Ron recorded with guitarist Pat Martino, ("Live!", now reissued as "Head and Heart") and with saxophonist Eric Kloss ("One, Two, Free"). Ron is admired for his lyrical and well crafted Jazz playing and his impressive catalog of classical works. Two previous sessions as a leader on the Vectordisk label are also available, "Scenes from a Voyage to Arcturus", and "The House of Counted Days".

Paul Klinefelter and Ron Thomas have been performing and recording in diverse musical situations since 1980. Paul was voted Philadelphia's Best Jazz Bassist in 1982 (WRTI 90.1 F.M.). He has performed at the San Jose Jazz Festival, the Berks Jazzfest and has been a clinician at the Berklee College of Music. He is a noted Blues player and has been a member of the Harrisburg Symphony since 1989. He has been featured on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross and is currently on the faculty of Rowan University and the Community College of Philadelphia.

Joe Mullen has performed with Stanley Clarke, Gerry Mulligan, Red Rodney, Gerry Niewood and Manny Album; most recently he has been directing extended free improvisation recording sessions with Ron at Glenn Ferracone's Music Centre recording studio; he appears on Ron Thomas' "The House of Counted Days", Peter Paulsen's "Three-Stranded Cord" and Terry Klinefelter's "Simple Gifts". He was collaborator and percussionist for many years with Philadelphia guitarist-composer Steve Giordano. Joe is co-founder and co-leader of Drumsquared along with composer/percussionist Robert Brosh.

For more information about Ron Thomas, his music and his teaching activities, please visit www.ronthomasmusic.com.

Liner Notes {top}

Lingering Aftertaste (A technical note)

A.C. Graham's 1965 Penguin Edition translation of "Poems of the Late T'ang" quotes 11th Century Chinese writer Wei T'ai.

"Poetry presents the thing in order to convey the feeling. It should be precise about the thing and reticent about the feeling, for as soon as the mind responds and connects with the thing the feeling shows in the words; this is how poetry enters deeply into us. If the poet presents directly feelings which overwhelm him, and keeps nothing back to linger as an aftertaste, he stirs us superficially...."

Our strategy as we played these pieces was to respond exclusively to the unfolding musical materials and processes. We knew if our discipline faltered, our own feelings about the materials would overtake us and nothing in the music would linger as an aftertaste; the listener would be stirred only superficially. We were precise about the materials and did not respond to passing feelings about the musical events as they took shape. We stayed cool, I think, and got respectably close to the heightened lyrical intensity we were after.

Ron Thomas

Selected Quotations {top}

Relative simplicity and a complete lack of pretense are two features that make Music in Three Parts such a standout sound. The disc's six tunes are based on three different musical figures: the three Impromptus on a figure in D minor; the two Caprices on a figure in C major; and the final Epilog on a figure in A flat major. The result is a alluring sound that mixes a mesmerizing melodic beauty with some of the finest trio interaction you'll hear this side of the best Bill Evans dates.

There must be a dozen relatively new-to-the-scene piano trios out there that get a lot a press and by jazz standards a lot a record sales. Most of them show a lot of promise; none of them display the depth of feeling and intimacy, the implacable, finely focused vision or the assured delivery of Ron Thomas' trio on this set. This is the way a bass should be recorded: Paul Klinefelter's sound is big and assertive in its interactions with Thomas's piano ideas, with elasticity and bounce. Drummer Joe Mullen swings back and forth between complex, introspective textures and extrovertive pop, while Ron Thomas works out his effortlessly cerebral yet always approachable melodic flow.

Thomas's last offering, the excellent House of Counted Days, had the feeling of the work of a musician who had let go of the of the hype and hustle of the music business to concentrate on his art. Music in Three Parts has that same feeling. Of course, without the hype and hustle, less records sell. And that, in this case, is a shame. The Ron Thomas Trio's Music in Three Parts should be grouped somewhere near the top of the list with the very best piano trio efforts of the year.
Dan McClenaghan - All About Jazz

Elegant, cerebral piano trio jazz in the classic post-bop style, the debut album by pianist Ron Thomas (with Paul Klinefelter on acoustic bass and Joe Mullen on drums) is no mere dinner music set. A set of six originals structured as a sort of jazz sonata, Music in Three Parts is challenging but not difficult; there is little improvisation on display beyond some particularly extravagant bass flourishes by Klinefelter on the opening "Impromptu" and some discreet solo fills by Thomas on the playful "Caprice," but Music in Three Parts isn't some staid third-stream effort straining under the weight of its own solemnity. Thomas is too cannily melodic a player to get lost in the weeds during his solo showcases and the rhythm section matches his lightness of tone with their own fluid, swinging attack. Proof that proper modern jazz can be appealing to an audience that doesn't know the MJQ from the AACM, Music in Three Parts neither panders nor overwhelms.
Stewart Mason - All Music Guide



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