Album review: Chris Trinidad’s “Certain Times”

By Ernest Barteldes

It is interesting how social media works – for quite some time, I have been “sharing” my published works on various portals (including Twitter and Facebook), but it was only after I decided to go out on my own and start this music blog that some people began to notice. A few days after publishing my review of Alex Conde’s “Descargas For Monk” I received a message on Twitter from San Francisco-area bassist Chris Trinidad asking if I would consider reviewing his album, which also featured Conde on piano. I was intrigued and said yes, and I am glad I did – the album is a work of art that I have been carefully listening to for the last few days, and when I spun it at the end of a dinner party at home, a musician friend asked me if I was planning to review it since he too enjoyed what he heard.

“Certain Times” (Iridium Records) showcases Trinidad’s chops both as a bassist and as a composer as the music goes into various different directions without losing its essence. “Inevitable Evolution” has a contemporary sound that allows for lots of improvisation, but the bandleader seems to step back and let his bandmates take over – and that is especially true for Conde and drummer Aaron Kierbel, who use the tune’s open spaces to masterfully play against each other, and that continues even during Charlie Gurke’s melodic baritone solo. “Something New In The Familiar” has a funk-inspired feel that also allows for a lot of freedom. On the track, his electric bass has a deep but also clear sound (according to the liners, he never changed the strings since he acquired the instrument, which I find astonishing – when I was gigging regularly in Brazil I had to change them at least every six months due to sea air damage). “A Reading In Retrospect” has more of a syncopated feel – Conde and Trinidad play tightly with each other, and Kierbel provides a dexterous solo as Gurke joins the bass line. Another highlight is “Priority,” a tune that starts out as a samba but then switches into a straight-ahead mode and then back to samba for the more improvised moments.

Not having been much exposed to West Coast jazz lately (being in New York, there is so much going on here that a lot gets lost in the shuffle), I must say that I am quite impressed by what I have heard in the last few weeks. Maybe I should accept that invite I got via Twitter – time to check out what is going on out there.

Check Trinidad’s work


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