Put this October 2008 release on your list of buried treasures: a 1992 recording of a trio with Carrothers, Gary Peacock, and Bill Stewart that was never released. What happened? It is great music. On it Carrothers reflects a pianist modeled on Keith Jarrett, without the singing, but with the resonant sound of bassist Gary Peacock and the strong, rhythmic playing of drummer Stewart accompanying him. Perhaps those images on the cover of a husky rooster are meant to convey the potency of this music?
The trio opens with Ornette Coleman's "When Will the Blues Leave" to grab the listener's attention and then moves on to a sweet, haunting composition, Toots Thielemans' "Jesus' Last Ballad," which included long solos that were so complete. With "Jesus," I had to check the lineup to name that tune. All the compositions are compelling, many penned by Carrothers: "A Squirrel's Tale" is awfully clever, displaying a sense of depth and humor.
Carrothers is a cerebral musician, which is another way of stating that he is a creative artist. In his early forties, he has displayed that quality in his I Love Paris CD (2005) with Belgium musicians Nicholas Thys and Dre Pallemaerts and Keep Your Sunny Side Up with Americans Ben Street and Ari Hoenig. But with Peacock, the music is a revelation. On the Porter, "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," Peacock nails it in a solo that one can't forget, for it stays lodged in the brain. Beautiful brush work to complement Peacock and Carrothers. Monk's "Off Minor" is perfect for Carrothers' sense of play with rhythm. The element of playfulness marks Kurt Weill's "Lost in the Stars," too. The set is rounded off by two complex and lyrical Carrothers compositions, "Home Row" and "Ballad of Billy Milwaukee."
The most intriguing aspect of this project is the delay in releasing this music. It causes the listener to look for faults. Better to approach it as one would buried treasure-elated by such good fortune.