My five go-to Piano Trio albums (of the ‘modern’ era)

I was looking for something last night with the perfect balance of energy and gracefulness, inspiration and accompaniment (to cooking) and I realised I could have selected any of several piano trio albums I listen to in such times.  They’re probably my favourite piano trio albums – I say of ‘modern’ times, because I’m thinking of about post-1995.

I’m not saying they’re the best – obviously far too many for me to listen to for that.  But they’re all great, inspirational and deserve checking out.

Things I’m looking for:  Good selection of tunes… some standards, some originals, some more interesting choices; Good coherency across the album; Muscular bass, rhythmically interesting drums, but doesn’t get in the way…

In no particular order:

  1.  George Colligan Trio – Past Present Future (Criss Cross 2005)

George Colligan – Piano, Vicente Archer – Bass, Bill Stewart – Drums

Ticks all the boxes.  Particularly lovely Cinema Paradiso cover, and an arrangement of Pastorius’s Three Views of a Secret.

2.  Joey Calderazzo (Columbia 2000)

Joey Calderazzo – Piano, John Patitucci – Bass, Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts – Drums

Tain can get pretty loud live, but here his energy is beautifully balanced.  They all play as a trio really well.  Includes Slings and Arrows by the Michael Brecker band that Joey was a part of and a beautiful Time Remembered.

3.  Introducing Brad Mehldau  (Warner Bros 1995)

Brad Mehldau – Piano, Larry Grenadier, Christian McBride – Bass, Jorge Rossy, Brian Blade – Drums

His first album and the subsequent trio wasn’t quite established, but it feels like one band (the two rhythm sections play half the tracks each).  The opening track, Countdown sets up all those Mehldau hallmarks, but whilst there sometimes feels like a bit too much technique and long runs and not enough memorable melody, rhythm and interplay on a later Mehldau trio album, its all beautifully balanced here.  Really really good.

4.  Marcin Wasilewski Trio – January (ECM 2008)

Marcin Wasilewski – Piano, Slawomir Kurkiewicz – Bass, Michael Miskiewicz – Drums

One of about four consistently terrific albums from this trio.  This one’s my favourite.  The ‘January’ setting feels apt, the mood of that month imbues a wonderful sensibility.  This also contains a version of Cinema Paradiso, and a surprising but perfect version of Prince’s Diamonds and Pearls.

5.  Julian Joseph – Universal Traveller (East West 1995)

Julian Joseph – Piano, Reginald Veal – Bass, Mark Mondesir – Drums

In his previous two albums he tried to show a bit too much… numerous guest horn players and singers (including himself).  They were great, but here it was just a trio and its a lovely album.  Probably the best I’ve heard all three of them individually.  Its a great London album too…  all original tunes except for Monk’s Straight No Chaser, showcasing JJ’s technique when he gets going, but never at the expense of the music and a beautiful softer side too.



About theinterruptingsheep
Freelance Composer/Arranger/Song-writer. Longer blogs here, shorter ones on twitter @GeraldCmin6 My band is 'The Great Divide'. You can 'like' us on facebook through Contact me directly through if you want me to score your project.

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