After lineup expansions and hiatuses, the original trio of Garage A Trois has returned with an excellent new studio album, Calm Down Cologne. Recorded in just one session at Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard’s Studio Litho in Seattle, WA, the players are in top-notch form throughout.
Guitarist/bassist Charlie Hunter, saxophonist Skerik and drummer Stanton Moore have been doing this ever since they released their debut Mysteryfunk back in 1999. Now scaling back to just the core trio, Garage A Trois returns to familiar turf yet with new sounds to play with. The most obvious is Skerik’s incorporation of various electronic keys, broadening the scope throughout.
Opening with the dynamite “No Zone” the tune delivers chicken scratching horns and guitar, both playing off the funky drummer in late 70’s electric funk/jazz style before the trio bust into a spacey ending. The album’s centerpiece continues on all of these fronts as “In-A-Pro-Pro” plays as an elevated jam session where you can almost hear the inspiration pinging around the room, pushing the trio to keep creating tripped out funk in unison. Hunter’s unique contributions highlight the long and hypnotic offering, as oddball keys and sax blows burp in and out.
Less successful is the get-down drive with creepy carnival keys of “The Epic” which brings on Christa Wells to add vocal overdubs; however, the title track is a much brighter, spunky, bop-inspired tune that was the only pre-planned song going into the recording session. The album ends with the strong drumming of Stanton anchoring the outer space keys from Skerik on the free jazz-inspired “Numinous”.
Calm Down Cologne is a confident collection of funkified, spacey jazz from a trio well versed with each other’s strengths as the OG Garage A Trois trio roll on.