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Rick McLaughlin Trio
Study in Light  (AC-5048, released 2003)

Bassist Rick McLaughlin has become one of the mainstays of the Boston jazz scene, anchoring the Either/Orchestra since 1997, the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra, the Felipe Salles Quintet and other groups. He applies formidable technique and musicality to a wide range of music, and always plays with passion and groove. He can be heard on three Accurate releases from the Either/Orchestra: More Beautiful than Death (AC-3282), Afro-Cubism (AC-3283) and the upcoming Neo-Modernism (AC-3284).

For his debut as a leader, Rick calls upon two colleagues from the E/O, saxophonist Jeremy Udden and pianist Greg Burk (a Soul Note recording artist). The "drummerless" format highlights McLaughlin's strong time feel, as well as the ability of these three musicians to make a complete, swinging sound. Study of Light displays the kind of elegance and lyricism associated with the jazz heyday of ECM records, but a with a more present and earthy recording sound. Both Burk and Udden play with exceptional poise and creativity.


The varied and well-paced program includes McLaughlin's arrangements of a movement from Ravel's string quartet, a famliar but not clichéd piece; the great bassist Sam Jones' "OP"; German bassist Eberhard Weber's "Colors of Chloe"; the standard "Without a Song"; and originals by McLaughlin and Burk.


"Not everything that saxophonist Russ Gershon's Boston-based Accurate Records has put out over the years is avant-garde. But if the company is best known for a particular approach to jazz, it is an inside/outside approach—artists who can be mildly avant-garde, but are not hard-left iconoclasts and don't isolate themselves from "the tradition" (meaning straightahead jazz). Accurate isn't as radical as Knitting Factory, but at the same time, Gershon doesn't expect his artists to spend all their time regurgitating "I Got Rhythm" clichés. And if that inside/outside approach is your view of Accurate Records, Rick McLaughlin's Study of Light should be considered a quintessentially Accurate release. Like so many other Accurate titles, Study of Light (the acoustic bassist's first album as a leader) is a non-dogmatic effort that looks to both the inside and outside for inspiration. Actually, this post-bop/avant-garde CD (mildly avant-garde, that is) is more inside than outside—probably about 80% inside, 20% outside. Forming a drumless trio with pianist Greg Burk and saxophonist Jeremy Udden, McLaughlin is often mindful of the ECM catalog—and much of the playing tends to be ethereal and lyrical. McLaughlin and his colleagues provide their share inviting, very digestible post-bop melodies, and the fact that they include Duke Ellington's "Isfahan" lets you know that they aren't oblivious to the tradition (far from it). But on Study of Light, a sophisticated, urbane melody can lead to some AACM-influenced outside improvisation—that is, if the trio feels that it's appropriate. McLaughlin, Burk and Udden keep their options open, and by doing so, they demonstrate that jazz really can be "the sound of surprise" (to borrow a phrase coined by critic Whitney Balliett). Thoughtful and lucid yet spontaneous, Study of Light is a memorable outing for the New England bassist.”

-Alex Henderson, All Music Guide


Rick McLaughlin: bass

 Greg Burk: piano

 Jeremy Udden: saxophones