Chicago’s Joe Policastro Trio returns to Columbus for its debut at Natalie’s on Wednesday, October 9th at 9pm – tickets and info available here. The band is touring in support of Nothing Here Belongs, its fourth album and first to present the members’ original material, alongside a few more signature renditions of popular song. “While firmly rooted in jazz, the band’s open-minded, inclusive nature draws upon a wide array of musical styles and sources while still keeping the aesthetic of an acoustic trio intact.” Keep reading for my thoughts on the album, and reserve your place now to catch this captivating outfit live!
Nothing Here Belongs begins and ends with the trio’s versions of two classic songs, perhaps as a way to ease into the originals – opener “I’m On Fire” (Bruce Springsteen) starts in a rootsy and quiet place, though Mikel Avery’s steady drumbeat anticipates the eventual climax and Policastro’s nimble bass solo aids the journey. “Speak Slow(Ly)” displays the group’s deft hand with changing rhythm and tempo – Dave Miller’s guitar swings hard in the lead and on a triumphant solo turn. “Bloodshot” is cool and bluesy, and as always there’s plenty going on between the three musicians, leading to moments of joyful noise. “In the Quiet” is appropriately thoughtful with a phrase in the melody that reminds the writer of a VERY popular song, like a pleasant ear worm, and twists and turns to an artful finale.
Santo & Johnny’s “The Wandering Sea” is the second of three covers here, and Policastro’s yearning bass countered by Miller’s charging guitar paints this surf rock gem in a different but familiar light. “Oceans of Notions” has a subdued strut, and Miller heads out on a tuneful stroll before Policastro adds his own earnest passage and Avery gives the drum set a spirited workout. “No Idea” employs an insanely memorable melody courtesy of Miller, and the band takes the tune on a journey through exciting peaks and valleys. The epic “Plain Song” starts out earthy and gently ascends, powered by master turns from each member of the ensemble. The album’s resounding finale is a take on Talking Heads’ “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” features Miller on the distinctive guitar plucks and melody, with Policastro and Avery adding energy and emotion to the soaring piece for a suitably cohesive and energetic conclusion.
Nothing Here Belongs is highly recommended for modern and classic jazz fans looking for timeless guitar/bass/drums trio material. Click here to buy a copy or pick one up at the show! Check out two album tracks via video: