2023, Music

Ceremony (2023) by Joe Policastro Trio

I enjoy this band’s music, in part, I guess, because I’ve seen them live. (They are playing in Toronto again this week, if you’re interested.) I recognize they’re not doing anything particularly inventive or innovative but I do really enjoy them.

As is fairly typical for them, the selection is a mixture of covers and originals. For me, I always come to them for the covers and they do not disappoint. They mix a cover of Joy Division with some Satie, and maybe that’s the first time anyone has ever written that. (I don’t know. But it sure feels distinct!) And they add to that covers of Roy Orbison, Thelonious Monk (much more typical for a jazz group) and the samba singer-songwriter João Bosco, who I don’t know. I always appreciate their willingness to cover different music that might not be viewed as complimentary.

The originals are fine as usual, with “Mojave Lifeline” standing out for me as something that I wouldn’t have necessarily expected from them. I feel like it’s usually the case with them that I come for the comes but, when they have originals, I usually don’t mind. The aforementioned song stands out, and otherwise everything is very pleasant.

As usual, the playing is great. I continue to find Dave Miller a fun guitarist, who has enough breadth of technique to keep everything interesting. Mikel Avery is, in my experience, a much more interesting drummer in person than on record but there are moments here that show off his idiosyncrasy at least a little bit. As for Policastro himself, I never really know what to see. He’s definitely a talented bass player but I always feel at a bit of a loss for how to judge standup players across time and genre. All the great ones can keep rhythm and play melody lines. I just don’t have the same ear for standup technique as I do for guitar. But believe me, the playing is great and you won’t have any issues with that.

This is more of the same of what they always do. So if there’s a criticism, I guess it’s that. But I quite like their shtick and I appreciate any group that will cover Satie, Monk, Orbison and Joy Division on the same record.


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