Christian Fabian Trio
Hip to the Skip
This trio recording comes as a surprise for at least three reasons. It’s the first time that drummer Jason Marsalis has played in a funk/fusion mode for the entire album, and secondly, it’s rare for a trio to render a funk/fusion record as most have horns or guitar in an addition to keyboards. Christian Fabian is the electric bassist, assuming both a supporting and a lead role along with keyboardist Matt King. Thirdly, you’ll hear such classics as Bobby Timmons’ “Moanin’,” Joe Zawinul’s “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” When the Saints Go Marching In,” Miles Davis’s “Four,” and McCoy Tyner’s “Effendi” rendered in a fusion format for probably the first time. New meets familiar with familiar also sounding very new.
Each trio member contributed originals as well in an album with multiple sessions comprising two or three tunes, beginning in 2021 and finishing in March of 2023. The album opens with Fabian’s highly energetic, certifiably danceable title track wherein he and King trade leads. King, taking cues from Herbie Hancock and Weather Report, arranged Zawinul’s tune which was recorded not with the latter group he is most identified with but with Cannonball Adderley as a soul-jazz classic. Preceding that, is another in the soul-jazz vein, as “Moanin’,” penned by pianist Bobby Timmons, has been an enduring track associated with Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers. Both lend themselves to vocal covers as well. Here the trio improvises cleverly around the core melody in both, stretching them out to engage in creative improvisation.
Marsalis keeps the train moving, with his blend of funk, hip hop, and swing in yet another unexpected twist, arranging a popular show tune from the ‘30s, “This Can’t Be Love.” His crispness with the sticks is a thing of beauty through the solos of Fabian and King. “Incognito,” a King original is the briefest track at a mere 4:00 but it’s start-stop intricate rhythm pattern and inspired, animated turns from each member make it a true standout. Fabian takes the arranging reins for an uplifting, remarkable take on “When the Saints Go Marching In” featuring wizardry from King on the Rhodes while the keyboardist reveals his B3 chops on Marsalis’s “Zig 7” as they transform to a funky classic jazz organ trio. Fabian’s arrangement greases up Miles’ “(Funky)Four” as King switched between Rhodes and B3 with Fabian authoring a Jaco Pastorius-like bass line.
Marsalis penned the driving “In The Name of Feminism” with King returning to Rhodes where Fabian and King trade lines amidst the drummer’s percolating, kinetic, and steady work on the kit. King has another phat piece of funk in “Sidekick” before handling the arrangement of Tyner’s “Effendi,” originally issued on Inception, (1962, Impulse!) by The McCoy Tyner Trio, a modal tune built around D minor and F sharp minor, effortlessly translated from the acoustic to the Rhodes piano.
Hip to the Skip is a vibrant trio recording with vivid expressions from each member throughout, guaranteed to get your blood moving and lift your spirits.
- Jim Hynes
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