The FSH Trio are:
The FSH Trio is a collaborative project initiated by Ron Samsom in conjunction with Rattle. Kevin, Ron and Olivier have been the rhythm section of choice for many artists over the last decade, including internationally renowned Nathan Haines. Nathan makes a guest appearance on two tracks.
Irony features compositions from all members of the trio, reflecting their diverse cultural backgrounds and wide ranging influences. Olivier sailed to New Zealand from Germany in 2002, in a boat he built himself! Ron arrived from Canada in 2003, while Kevin is a native New Zealander. Having played together for five years, the trio have developed a unique musical identity, rich with intimacy, energy, lucidity and risk, all captured in this exceptional debut recording.
The subtle use of melody and dense layers of harmonic and rhythmic complexity balance the buoyancy and fluidity of the music. There is keen interplay between the musicians, and an engaging sense of fun is evident as the conversational elements expand through improvisation. There is enormous generosity between the players, and their dexterity and flexibility brings a dynamic-range and breadth of contrast that gives the music great distinction. Recording engineer Steve Garden captured the performances with clarity, warmth and intimacy, and the resulting sound is deeply attractive.
This is a trio you’ll hear a lot more of in the future.
"Auckland's Rattle label -- which has an unimpeachable track record in releasing beautifully produced, impressively packaged, often award-winning contemporary classical and elsewhere albums -- now makes a serious foray into jazz with this fine trio recording of originals. This impressive [group] essay their ideas with what seems like ease, but driven by keen intelligence. This is an excellent local jazz release -- in fact it stands far above some of the internationals I've been hearing lately."
- Graham Reid (Read more at Jazz in Elsewhere)
Review by Michael Flynn
Irony is the debut recording for the FSH Trio and also the first of a series planned by classical specialist Auckland independent label Rattle Records under their own jazz banner. Field (piano), Samson (drums) and Holland (bass) have been playing as a trio for five years now and it is evident, their buoyant interplay and melodic passages rich with energy and not lacking in emotion. Field’s great sense of harmony, heard throughout the album, is most moving perhaps in his composition Madame Butterfly. Nathan Haines, guesting on two of these original compositions, adds a wistful saxophone to this haunting tune. Samsom’s gentle composition Breathe sees Field exploring the melodic structures with fluidity and grace before finally giving way to the compelling bass lines of Holland. With 10 tracks all lasting between five and nine minutes, this is an engaging album and a recommended listen. Superbly recorded by Steve Garden at Auckland University’s Kenneth Myers Centre, Irony is a wonderful opening statement for both the FSH Trio and Rattle Jazz.
RAT-J1001 (2009)Recording: Steve Garden
The FSH Trio thank the University of Auckland for its contribution to this project.
Ironing (Field) 5:06
Kevin Field comments on the album
My compositions for Irony were developed over a five-year period. The opening track, Ironing has been around the longest. I wrote the main (middle) section first. It started as a piano vamp, then other sections were added, and eventually it emerged as a complete composition.
Madame Butterfly is perhaps the most haunting of the compositions, which is accentuated by the quality of Nathan’s pensive soprano saxophone. I originally wrote this on an MPC drum programmer, and then added the bass part and key change. Nathan has a natural, intuitive ability for melodic improvisation, which he demonstrates beautifully on this tune.
The open 8th note feel of Drea gives Ron a chance to shine as he compels the listener into the drama of the piece. Drea is a fictional character, a woman who sells magic potions…to make you invisible, to make you fall in love… she’s good but also a little bit evil.
Backslider is an opportunity for piano and drums to improvise off each other as they dance around the insistent rhythmically displaced bass ostinato. Unlike everything else I’ve ever written, the idea for Backslider came to me away from the piano. I came up with the concept in my head, and then tried harmonies on the piano before settling on the sounds I liked.
Bootcamp is an example of through-composition across three distinct sections. I like the way the band comes down to almost nothing in the third section then gradually build to the climactic return of the middle section. The sections were originally written in a different order, re-arranged later to create the final form.
Ron Samsom comments on the album
I love trio settings - piano trio in particular. It’s the format I enjoy writing for most. My first gig in Auckland (after arriving from Canada in July, 2003) was with pianist Kevin Field and bassist Kevin Haines. Both have had a strong influence on my compositions. Kevin Field’s role is more obvious in terms of his creative and imaginative interpretations. The definition and depth he brings to my tunes is such that I can’t imagine them being played by anyone else.
The influence of Kevin Haines is less obvious. Kevin has unknowingly shaped my playing and writing by being a cherished mentor and friend. He has transferred his musical knowledge and wisdom in the manner of the greatest exponents of jazz: through his playing. I thought I was coming to New Zealand to teach, but I have learned more about the magic of music by hanging out with Kevin Haines
For me, the magical element is the chemistry created when there is a good balance of ingredients, those essential nuances that blend to form one sound. In this respect, the bass playing of Olivier Holland is crucial to the coherence and focus of the FSH Trio sound. The thing about Oli is that he’s ‘got his own’ (God bless the Child) sound and concept. In these days of ‘post-modern jazz’, it’s hard to find individuals who stand out. I remember how beautiful the sound of individual jazz used to be, how important it was to have a musical identity. For me, it still is important. This, I believe, is what distinguishes the FSH Trio sound.
I hope you enjoy the recording!
Olivier Holland comments on the album
The thing that sets The FHS Trio apart from most of the groups I have played in during my career is the importance of improvisation as an essential feature of our music. We all have "big ears". We listen intently, and each of us has a strong desire to provide the best possible support for the other. This, for me, is what makes performing with this trio an exciting and deeply satisfying experience – and it’s great fun!
I’m very pleased with the outcome of Irony, and would like to thank Kevin and Ron for making my original tune ‘sound good’ (which took some time to settle in rehearsals due to the 7/8 - 9/8 hybrid time signature). It has been a privilege to contribute to Ron and Kevin’s compositions, partly because their unique writing styles are free of stylistic and traditional straightjackets. It’s one of the main reasons why this album has been such a pleasure to make, and why it is an ongoing pleasure to listen to. My hope is that you like it as much as I do.