Straight to the Top –  Rio Trio (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Someone once asked me what the difference was between playing standards and playing covers. I replied that if you were taking familiar themes and reinterpreting them, breathing in new life, opting for new approaches and updated attitudes then you’re playing standards. If you were sucking all the soul and swagger out of a half-baked rendition of Mustang Sally because you saw it in the film The Commitments, then you are playing covers. Rio Trio are all about the former.

They wander between almost classical realms and cool, latin jazz, taking in both expected titles and interesting, not to mention surprising, choices…a flute led version of Nature Boy was as unexpected as it was charming! There is a wonderful delicacy to what they do which comes in part from their clever and spacious arrangements but mainly because of their deftness and economy when deciding where and when to play. And that is the art of it really, particularly when you have three such virtuosic players. No one gets in each others way allowing everyone to step in and out of the limelight in equal measure.

A gorgeous, tranquil and understated album if ever there was one.

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