Phelan Burgoyne Trio, Quiet Unquiet (Pumpkin Records)
Drummer Burgoyne’s trio may seem now and then to be floating toward somnolence, but the tidal urgencies and complexities of his drumming are unlikely to encourage napping. The ingenuity and intellectual rigor of guitarist Rob Luft and alto saxophonist Martin Speake are equally responsible for keeping the listener’s attention. Burgoyne and Luft were Speake’s students at London’s Royal Academy of Music. Now the professor is a sideman in his former student’s little band, which is increasingly prominent in British music. Moderate sonic manipulation occasionally enhances the music, as in “Midnight Train to Malmö.” If you are not aware of the digital molding, it seems natural—and isn’t that the idea? Luft and Speake achieve keening intensity on “Purple Z.” Burgoyne fashions a cymbal-fest before the piece slowly subsides into a thoughtful echo. The first third of “Green T” is an exercise in reflection for Luft’s guitar and Burgoyne’s cymbals before Speake soars, then darts, in a solo whose passion takes his alto well into the altissimo range. The eight pieces in the album, all composed by Burgoyne, include two short tracks titled “Quiet Unquiet I” and Quiet Unquiet II” that demonstrate the melodic quality of his solo technique. The musicality and appeal of this little band seem likely to keep bringing them attention.
In a demonstration of their stylistic flexibility, here is the Burgoyne trio at the Royal Academy in 2015 with the 20th century Vienesse composer Alban Berg’s “Schliesse Mir Die Augen Beide.”