Geoff Eales Trio - Master of the Game (4 stars)

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Geoff Eales Trio - Master of the Game

(Edition Records)

Pianist Geoff Eales is highly regarded as a player of standards, but consciously chooses to push the envelope (as he puts it himself) on this disc for the Edition label, run by musician Dave Stapleton and photographer Tim Dickeson, and now making its own mark on British jazz. He could scarcely have chosen more resourceful collaborators in the effort than bassist Chris Laurence and drummer Martin France.

They are responsive to every twist and turn of the music and make powerful contributions to the evolving musical conversation. Eales is the heart of the matter, both through his compositions and at the keyboard. His familiar vocabulary, indebted to Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, does indeed expand in more contemporary directions here (including an elegiac tribute to Esbjörn Svensson), but with little sense of forcing the lucid and energised music into uncomfortable territory.

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