The Paul Carlon Trio: Tresillo

The idea for a ‘sans-chordal-instrument’ trio may have come to Paul Carlon from Sonny Rollins’ piano-less ensembles over a period of time, but that is where the association with Mr Rollins ends – or ought to end. Musically, Mr Carlon is closer to Joe Henderson than anyone else in the world of the tenor saxophone. A big man with an expressive face, Mr Carlon espouses a tone much larger than himself, which is by turn gritty, rapturously lyrical, sparkling and luscious. And in the confines of the studio, also in the intimacy of this trio setting, he is able to display his innate ability to convey – with memorable eloquence – dramatic narratives, a skill honed not only through his compositional ability, but to do so while speaking, with deep knowledge, in many dialects, primarily Jazz and Afro-Caribbean.

Editor’s Pick · Featured Album · Tresillo

The album, Tresillo celebrates the art of the threesome although this musical ménage-a trois sometimes also includes four or six persons, with the inclusion of the incredible tresero Benjamin Lapidus on three tracks beginning with a truly expressive performance on the son Cubano “Mami Me Gustó” and continuing on “Nobleza” and finally on “Tocoloro”. This (quartet) is further embellished by the voices of Jorge Maldonado and Christelle Durandy on the first and third songs respectively. In addition to the outstanding leaps by Paul Carlon all over the registers of his tenor, we are treated to some of monumental bass-line melodies and overall rhythmic and harmonic ingenuity from Alex Ayala, who has been called a ‘young lion’, a term he gives life to with his might growl and the roar and rumble especially on the contrabass, an instrument he plays with impeccable intonation and mien.

Of course this trio would be incomplete without the unique voice of Wilson ‘Chembo’ Corniel, who brings his full emotional range of expression to the congas, the polyrhythmic bedrock (especially) of “Rumba Waimea” and “Afro American”, the latter being played with a great deal of militancy. Another outstanding performance comes on from Mr Ayala, playing con arco on “Churrasco Con Eggs” and of course, by Paul Carlon on Charlie Parker’s “Segment”, which is, to my mind, one of two high points (the other being the opening – Chucho Valdés’ “Mambo Influenciado”) on the breathtaking disc. The beauty of the former is a brief, but benchmark, tenor saxophone solo which takes place as Paul Carlon takes the work’s energetic theme and engulfs it with playing of scintillating warmth and beauty. This important release – Tresillo – cannot be recommended highly enough.

Track list – 1: Mambo Influenciado; 2: Mister Lenguaje; 3: Mami Me Gustó; 4: Rumba Wainea; 5: Afro American; 6: Nobleza; 7: Churrasco Con Eggs; 8: Segment; 9: Tocoloro.

Personnel – Paul Carlon: tenor saxophone and arrangements; Alex ‘Apolo’ Ayala: contrabass and electric bass; Wilson ‘Chembo’ Corniel: congas, chekeré, güiro and claves; with Special Guests – Benjamin Lapidus: tres (3, 6, 9); Jorge Maldonado: vocals (3, 9); Christelle Durandy: vocals (3, 9).

Released – 2017
Label – Deep Tone Records
Runtime – 52:03

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