in performance: triptych

Triptych. From left, Matt Ulery, Zach Brock and Jon Deitemyer.

The definition of a triptych is an alliance of three artistic parts linked for a common purpose or vision. That explains perhaps how any jazz trio operates, but it is understandably true for Triptych, the band Lexington violinist Zach Brock has designed with bassist Matt Ulery and drummer Jon Deitemyer. Of course, there is a common, unified voice at work here. But judging by its late set last night at Tee Dee’s Lounge, there is nothing obvious about the music that voice constructs.

In other words, Triptych doesn’t operate as a standard bop-inspired jazz unit, although there were fragments of that sound within the trio’s expansive musical vocabulary. Overall, though, Triptych sounded more restless than that.

For the Ulery tune “Cavendish,” that meant utilizing a skittish, mischievous melody that would regularly shift tempos and rhythms the way a vintage Dave Brubeck composition might. On Brock’s “Cryface,” a tune that took its unlikely inspiration from the facial contortions actress Claire Danes summoned to express strife on the TV series “Homeland,” it meant juggling an accessible, almost fusion-esque melody with improvisational passages that included a largely free intro from Brock and, later, playful sparring between the violinist and Ulery.

An almost impromptu cover of Clifford Brown’s “Sandu,” however, began with a touch of indecision – as in, an extended onstage conference between the three players as to what tune was actually going to be played. The piece’s attractive blues sway eventually settled in, but not before some engaging instrumental free-for-alls gave the formulating rhythms a brutish, almost Monk-ish feel.

What was arguably the highlight in a continually engaging set was Deitemyer’s “Cheyenne,” a work that dialed back the ensemble sound for more wistful, lyrical glides colored by Brock’s pizzicato plucking on violin and the subtle blues fabric Ulery and Deitemyer created as a duo.

Triptych heads into the studio next week to cut the original tunes from this set, the concluding performance in the inaugural season of the Origins Jazz Series. It will be interesting to hear how such an arsenal of rhythmic ideas will transfer to the more ordered documentation of a recording. My bet is the music will still rock the joint.

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