Vocalist Jay Clayton, trombonist Ed Neumeister and late pianist Fritz Pauer explore a wide spectrum of invention from jazz standards to free improv

3 for the Road, due out Aug. 21 via MeisteroMusic Records, celebrates the exploratory international trio, convened in Pauer’s native Vienna

Three master improvisers – vocalist Jay Clayton, trombonist Ed Neumeister, and Austrian pianist Fritz Pauer – convene for the exploratory, intimate trio outing 3 for the Road, due out August 21, 2020 via MeisteroMusic Records. The album serves as both a celebration of an enduring collaboration as well as a tribute to the late Pauer, who tragically passed away in July 2012.

As delightful as it is adventurous, 3 for the Road captures the almost alchemical enchantments that resulted whenever these boundless musicians came together. Their deeply felt synergy was built upon a shared love of a vast range of influences, melding standard repertoire with free improvisation, classical composition with daring invention, poetic lyricism with stark abstraction.

The chemistry forged by those on and off stage experiences is evident throughout 3 for the Road, which weaves intriguingly between freely improvised pieces, spontaneous settings of the poetry of e.e. cummings, and reimagined jazz standards like “Two for the Road” and “It Could Happen To You.” Clayton’s percussive vocalizations launch opener “Love Is a Place,” echoed through Pauer’s stabbing spirals and Neumeister’s dancing sputters, creating an evocative atmosphere for the first cummings piece. Later, “May I Be Gay” contrasts a second poem against Pauer’s searching dissonances and faint, muted trombone moans.

The trio’s free pieces reveal their preternatural gifts for conjuring spontaneous arrangements that feel fully fleshed, retaining the immediacy of their improvisations with the lush beauty of the standards with which they share the album. The approach walks a tightrope that all three navigated their entire careers, fluidly traveling between the familiar and the startling, the intricate and the explosive. 3 for the Road is a compelling snapshot of one such journey, sadly never to be reprised but thrilling to revisit.

3 for the Road CD

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