Before even hearing Casey Golden’s new piano trio recording I am won over by the cover. It’s true, I guess, that one should not judge the book by its cover, but I don’t think I have ever seen Jazz music represented by an image such as this. Upon encountering this recording, we are met with a black and white drawing of a planetary scenario, complete with cosmic collisions. It is the work of Ron Frenz, an artist whose output is to be found within the pages of Marvel and DC comics.
The title and artwork together make a powerful suggestion about the positioning of the music, and the end result holds to this first impression by being both extrinsic and encompassing in its influences. From my personal perspective, this is Australian art speaking from its most powerful standpoint, one that uses marginality as a point from which a breadth of artistic achievements, from a spectrum of cultural entities, are all equally accessible. There are threads and influences from many streams of Jazz, and indeed Popular and Classical music here. However, this is not to imply Outliers is in any way derivative music, it is simply informed.
There is much of the European Jazz aesthetic imbedded here, but ultimately Golden’s music stands apart. It is much more chromatic, and the voicings are frequently more dense, than one might expect from similarly etherial European piano trios, and although there is a kindred sense of space and development, overall the music is more rhythmically challenging and perhaps even more daring. The compositions are effective and the group seems to be always developing their ideas, moving forward within the structures and giving a satisfying sense of progression and story telling.
Timbre is treated interestingly here also, the recording presenting a piano sound that is spacious yet robust. Likewise, the percussion of Ed Rodrigues sounds light and clear in the cymbals, but contrastingly wooden and darkened as he descends into the drums. As a trio, Golden, Rodrigues and bassist Bill Williams work well together, reaching for a concept that retains expanse and stretch, without sacrificing complexity. It is a very listenable album, that could entice a listener new to Jazz yet also keep the ear of those more well aquainted.