Tiny Bell Trio: Songs for Wandering Souls,
1999. Order it from
Tiny Bell Trio: Live in Europe, 1997. Get it from
Tiny Bell Trio: Constellations, 1995.
Recorded in 1995 at Swiss
in Zurich. Get it from
Tiny Bell Trio: The Tiny Bell Trio, 1994 (2000). Order it from
- Sheet music
by Dave Douglas.
Dave Douglas on trumpet, Brad Shepik on
guitar and Jim Black on drums
Concert at the Alte Kaserne,
Winterthur, Switzerland, March 2, 2001
Article added on March
Tiny Bell Trio
The Tiny Bell Trio with Dave Douglas on
trumpet, Brad Shepik on guitar and Jim Black on drums is one of the rare
truly innovative and exciting trios around. Founded in 1991 as a group who
played in the Bell Café in Soho, New York City, its name reflects the
fact that in the beginning they had to play in a tiny corner of the mentioned cafe,
often ignored by the public who did not actively listen to them. The trio
has gone a long way since their days as an obscure background ensemble in
after the arrival of Shepik and Black in New York, the trio's
repertoire is largely influenced by traditional East European folk music that Douglas
has explored with accordionist Nabila Schwab before.
Their first CD, released in 1994, was simply entitled The Tiny Bell Trio.
The same year, the trio went on their
first European tour. The following year, their second album, Constellations,
was released. To promote it, they toured North America as well as Europe.
Besides European folk music, especially from the Balkans, the trio also
began to include other musical influences into their sound, ranging from
classical composer Robert Schumann to George Brassens and Herbie Nichols.
In 1997 followed the album Live in Europe, which is a mix of
Serbian, Macedonian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Klezmer, classical and jazz
influences. Their original blend of "Balkan fusion" is always
full of humor. The album is the best account available of the trio's live
performances. Of course, if you have the chance to see the trio in the
flesh, don't miss it. Nothing can beat the real thing, a live performance.
The latest release of The Tiny Bell Trio is 1999s Songs
of Wandering Souls.
For the biography of trumpeter and composer
Dave Douglas, born in Montclair, New Jersey, in 1963, as well
as CD and concert reviews with some of his other groups, check the
following articles: Dave
Douglas' Sextet and Dave
Douglas' Charms of The Night Sky. In autumn 2001, Dave
Douglas is to release a CD recorded with Tom Waits and a bigger ensemble.
Guitarist and composer Brad Shepik was born
in Walla Walla, WA, in 1966, and raised in Seattle. He moved to New York
City in 1990 where, a year later, he became a member of the Tiny Bell
Trio. He leads his own quintet, the Commuters, featuring Peter Epstein
(saxophones), Skuli Sverisson (bass), Mike Sarin (drums) and Seido
Salifoski (dumbek and percussion). Their first CD is entitled The Loan.
Shepik is also a regular member of Pachora, Babkas, the Paradox Trio and
the acoustic trio Tridruga. He has also worked and/or recorded with Paul
Motion's Electric Bebop Band, Carla Bley's Escalator over the Hill,
Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, Yuri Yunakov's Bulgarian
Wedding Band, Tim Berne, Steve Swallow, Kenny Werner, Julian Priester,
Andy Laster, Jerry Granelli, Jay Clayton, Ken Schaphorst and Franz
Drummer Jim Black was born in 1967 and grew
up in Seattle, WA. As a teenager, he played music ranging from garage rock
to big band swing. In 1985, he was admitted to the prestigious Berklee
College of Music in Boston, MA. Already as a student, he recorded albums,
performed in Europe and taught summer classes at Berklee. In 1999, he
moved to Brooklyn, NY, and soon afterwards became a member of the Tiny
Bell Trio. Jim Black has also been touring and recording with Pachora,
Human Feel, Tim Berne's Bloodcount, the Ellery Eskelin Trio and Uri
Caine's Mahler Project. He leads his own quartet, Beat Table, featuring
Skuli Sverrisson, DJ Olive and Ted Reichmann.
The Tiny Bell Trio in concert
at the Alte Kaserne in
Winterthur, Switzerland, March 3, 2001
The Tiny Bell Trio's concert in Winterthur
was a superb demonstration of the fact that avant-garde music does not
have to be boring or deadly serious. It was Dave Douglas' third
performance at the Alte Kaserne within a year. He had already convinced
with two of his other groups, Dave
Douglas' Sextet and Dave
Douglas' Charms of The Night Sky (the 2000 Downbeat
Critics' Poll awarded them best album of the year for Soul on Soul;
Dave Douglas was also named Trumpeter and Artist of
In its 10th-year of existence, the Tiny
Bell Trio has definitively become a reference for creativity and pure joy
of playing. As Dave Douglas confessed the Tiny Bell Trio has now a
repertoire of some 100 pieces, more than half of which they can
play anytime - and that's what they are doing on their current concert tour. At
the last moment, they decide on what to play.
Most of the compositions played in
Winterthur can be found on the trio's former CD releases, but a few new
tunes were played as well. Impressive was the range of music Dave Douglas on
trumpet, Brad Shepik on guitar and Jim Black on drums dwell on. Among the
compositions very freely incorporated into their distinctive sound one
finds the classical music of Robert Schumann, jazz tunes by Thelonious
Monk, Roland Kirk and Wayne Shorter, European
and folk music from the
Balkan, lullabies and film music.
After a wild and furious introduction, the
second tune played by the Tiny Bell Trio was On Shot from the album Songs for Wandering Souls. Dave Douglas started off the elegiac
ballad, soon afterwards joined by his sensitive partners. The Tiny Bell
Trio is no one-man show which exclusively relies on Dave Douglas. Jim Black is an outstanding and
much sought after drummer. He is no simple rhythm provider. Like Douglas, he is a virtuoso. He
uses little bells, rattles, a violin bow and many indescribable
instruments. Black continuously helps to break up established, well-known
forms of music and transforms them into something new. The Tiny Bell
Trio is an ensemble of constant, restless change. There is no standstill
and no uninspired moment. Guitarist Brad Shepik was the most melodious and
harmonic of the three musicians, playing a key role in holding his two
more experimental friends and the trio together.
After the ballad followed a fast-paced
jazzy tune with a roguish touch - present in all the twelve compositions,
six played before and the other six performed after the break. Dave
Douglas did not only blow the trumpet, he literarily spoke on it, whistled
and gurgled and invented a lot of noises unheard before. At any moment,
the trio was enjoying the concert, especially Jim Black with an ecstatic
smile all over his face.
None of the compositions was a simple tune
with one melody in one style, but all were complex arrangements with
references, allusion and reminiscences to marching parades, Mardi Gras,
free jazz, klezmer, Bulgarian and Hungarian tunes, to Miles Davis and
children's rooms. Melodramatic moments here and there were immediately
transformed into fun and joy. At the end of the first part, in a
composition previously recorded, the influence of Robert Schumann's Fünf
Volkston op. 102, was feasible. A frenetic joyful tune with a stronger
East European folk element.
The second part started off with Shepik's
guitar playing a blue tune with a Spanish touch. It was the first and only
thoroughly serious moment of the evening. The second tune offered
allusions to fanfares and solemn music, Klezmer and Balkan folk music.
Impressive was the fact that there were no pauses between the highly
complex compositions. The blind understanding of ten years of playing
together paid off. The trio had just arrived from New York City, but at no
moment did one get the impression of jet lag in the musicians playing.
In another tune, Dave Douglas blew all
sorts of staccato sounds, accompanied by dark and melodramatic drumbeats
by Jim Black, who created a gloomy atmosphere. This was the
highlight at a concert entirely consisting of outstanding performances. It
was followed by a joyful tune with beats like cracks of the whip by Jim
Black, an orgiastic experience.
The penultimate compositions of the
official program was Kurt Weill's The Drowned Girl, in a version
with the Tiny Bell Trio's blend. Thanks to the public's enthusiastic
response, two encores followed later, Czardas from the album Live in
Europe. It was to illustrate how rather naive and sometimes awkward
the Tiny Bell Trio sounded at its obscure beginnings in Soho. The second
encore was Thelonious Monk's Ask My
Know, introduced by Dave Douglas with the words: "But after this,
please be merciful" - the trio started to pay tribute to the
transatlantic travel. You thought jazz was dull, a thing of the past, a
form of music that had become outdated? The Tiny Bell Trio is the most
exciting live experience out there at the moment. -
by Dave Douglas.